Handling complaints well and resolving conflict situations caused by equipment failure, broken promises, inaccurate information or poor communication or service is vital in business. Resolve a complaint in the customers favour and they will do business with you again 70% of the time. Up to 95% of customers will give you a second chance if you handle their complaint successfully and in a timely manner.
Logging complaints is helpful to see if there is a pattern of complaints relating to the same issue. Research shows that companies that are customer focussed get more complaints because they ask for them, and with this information they can turn a negative situation into a loyal customer. Interestingly if you have no complaints, it doesn’t mean your customers are happy, they just can’t be bothered to complain and the first you know of it is when they defect. This can have a significant impact on B2B companies who may have become complacent as a result of long term business relationships.
With the impact of social media and the threat of everyone being well connected it is important to get complaints ‘offline’ as quickly as possible. The use of a dedicated email address is important so that you can quickly resolve the complaint without the complaint building an online following which leads to significant brand damage.
Some of the messages used by members of the Business Exposure Group in their complaint departments were expressed at the last meeting of our members. They included:
‘Just say sorry, and ask how you might resolve the issue’
‘Transfer the customer quickly and explain why the transfer is to their benefit, say you will be transferred to XX our specialist who can better answer your questions’
‘Drop formalities and refer to ‘our chat’ not ‘our correspondence’ and all communication should be in the first person ‘I am sorry not we’.
Businesses that resolve matters when things go wrong can charge 5-10% more than businesses that don’t appear to care. If your business operates in a market with small margins, an effective complaints handling process can be the all-important differentiator when attracting new customers.
Customer service is so important. It takes 12 positive incidents to make up for one negative incident, which is why businesses nowadays need to positively delight customers to earn their loyalty.