Who likes to hear customer complaints? No one, if you ask me – at least not me. It’s easy to feel defensive about the business you have created. Of course, you are proud of it; you’re probably also pretty reliant on customers liking it, so you don’t want there to be anything wrong with it.
Most business owners got angry with customer complaints, never make such a mistake instead look for ways your business could benefit from customer complaints.
As a smart business owner, you need to consider customer complaints as solid gold; an opportunity to improve and better your business.
Today, let take a look at why customer complaints matter to small business, what you can learn from customer complaints, and how to make the most of them to advance your business.
Why customer complaints matter
The process and procedure of knowing what you’re doing right – and wrong can be very time-consuming and expensive, most especially for small businesses.
To get customer feedback you may use online surveys, comment cards in your location, social media surveys, or even in-person customer focus groups. But, all will work except the fact that they miss one crucial element – Honesty.
When a customer complains, they’re dropping honest feedback right in your lap, without any effort on your part. That’s as rare and valuable as gold.
Businesses of all sizes spend a lot of time, money, and effort trying to find out what their customers think of them. So, why not make the most out of the free offer you get through customer complaints?
What you can learn from customer complaints
Customer complaints can be used as a tool to swiftly improve your products, services, and customer experience in entirety.
They give you valuable information for free. They provide you with business insight such as:
- What systems, processes, or policies at your business aren’t working
- Which employees are not pulling their weight
- Which products or services need to be improved or eliminated from your offerings
- What your competitors are doing that you could learn from
- And much more.
Today, the buying decision of a customer is largely determined by other people. Customers are putting more and more stock in the opinions of friends, family members, and even complete strangers via online reviews and social media, honest feedback on your business matters more than ever.
Unfortunately, many small businesses sweep off customer complaints under the carpet; they simply treat it as one person’s opinion or an isolated incident. As a result, they don’t learn anything from them.
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How to get the maximum benefit from customer complaints
Still wondering how you can benefit from customer complaints? Here are seven steps to getting the most value from customer complaints:
1. See Things From Customers Perspective.
As earlier stated, it’s very easy to become defensive about your products or services – but to get the most from customer complaints; it’s always better to take the opposite approach.
You need to be liberal when handling customer complaints. The most important step you can take in handling unhappy customers is to assume that the customers are right and look at where your business is not getting the thing right to generate the complaint.
- Is your return policy unclear?
- Are the Extras (add-ons) clearly separated from the main product or service?
- Is information about your business online, such as hours of operation, current and correct?
- Is your website checkout process simple to understand?
Understand that your customers love you and that’s why they are complaining to you in the first place. It’s human nature to become defensive – don’t fall for the urge. Look at the situation of things through the eyes of your customers.
2. Do The Digging – Encourage Complaints.
Do you know that the largest percentage of your customer will never complain at all?
This can be as a result of their previous experience with other business which doesn’t handle customer complaints properly. Or, rather because they were raised to be polite; some are business owners and may not want to trigger a negative feeling most business owners felt when customers complaints.
Whatever the reasons might be, the fact that lots of your customers do not complain at all doesn’t mean they are happy and satisfied.
In order to prevent this group of customers from taking their businesses elsewhere, next time you conduct a survey or focus group, specifically ask customers for negative feedback.
It may take a little urging to get them to be honest, but let them know you want to hear any complaints, no matter how small. There are very few companies that do absolutely everything right, don’t think that you are a great company because your customers are not complaining; you might just need to do a little digging to find out.
3. Talk To Your Most Loyal Customers.
Do you know your loyal customers? Does your business have a loyalty program? If the answer to any of the questions is yes, then you have a bar of gold in your treasury.
Loyal customers will stick with you even if things start to go south, so in order for them to complain, things have to be really wrong. If you have a loyalty program at your business, tap into the information you’ve gathered from it to spot your most loyal customers. Then reach out to them on a regular basis with surveys and other tools to get their honest opinions.
4. Tap Into Technology.
Freshdesk, Help Scout, ZenDesk, and Zoho Desk are four popular customer service software apps for small businesses. They can help you track customer complaints, questions, and interactions so you can respond quickly and see patterns.
5. Take Action.
It is important to take steps to resolve problems. Don’t just listen to customer complaints, you need to apologize for problems and take action to get them fixed.
In addition to handling individual complaints promptly, also set a regular schedule, perhaps once a month or once a quarter, to go over complaints in the aggregate. This will help you identify common complaint pattern which will serve as a pointer to problems within your business.
6. Communicate With Customers.
Resolving certain problems might involve making big changes with process or policy which can take lots of time. In order to prevent customers from feeling frustrated, let them know you’re working on the problem.
Post status updates on your website or shares them in your email communications; whatever channel that best fit your business, use it to communicate with customers about the actions you’re taking.
7. Follow up.
Whether it’s an individual customer complaint or a larger issue that you worked to resolve, follow up with customers after you think the issue is handled. It’s important to make sure that they are satisfied with the outcome. Only then can you truly say you have resolved the customer complaint?
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Wrap It Up!
Knowing how to handle customer complaints is crucial to the success of your business. You need to handle customer complaints with care not only when you are at fault but also when customers make mistakes on their part.
It’s important to know that customers appreciate you more when you attend to their complaints even when it’s an error on the customers’ side.
Customers are business lifelines; you need to constantly improve your business to in order to provide better customers experience.
Over To You
So, what are the other advice, tips, strategies, techniques or methods that have worked for you? Please share with us in the comment below. Believe me; I sincerely value your opinion more than mine.
And don’t forget there is love in sharing!