We like to see customer complaints as our enemies when in fact they should be our friends. Of course in an ideal world you would not receive any complaints, but until then it is wise to learn from the customers. As they say, what does not kill you, makes you stronger. That is if you learn from all experiences.
Reason #1: You will have a chance to rectify the situation
Since something went wrong according to a client, the complaint gives you an opportunity to fix the problem for them. That is valuable for them and it has to be worth something to you also? If nothing else, you will know a process requires fixing up to prevent it happening again. Customer complaints can create momentum and a desire to fix a problem, which is a good thing. Advanced companies will also close the loop and let the customer know what you have done to make the situation better for them and for others. Customers love it when you call them personally, thank them for their just complaint, show you care about them and then explain what actions you have taken to fix it. You can make customers heroes in your business!
Reason #2: Closing your eyes will not make the boogieman to go away
Nope, it makes them grow stronger and even more awful. As you know, problems tend to escalate over time. Maybe the customer will leave your business. On top of that they may tell tens of their friends to abandon your business, too! Knowing about a service issue is the first stage to fixing it. Yes it makes you feel slightly sick, especially if you’re responsible. Yes you will wish you hadn’t heard it – especially if you do not care about your customer. And yes you will be embarrassed – although perhaps you should be. But not for long. Being embarrassed doesn’t change things. Learning from experiences and transforming your business more customer centric will.
Reason #3: Learn faster, become better quicker
Customer complaints put your business on an expedited learning curve. It simply isn’t fast enough today to get customer satisfaction survey reports once a year. You need more real-time ways to understand customer experiences. And to avoid customer complaints. But when you receive them, learn from them and implement the the changes quickly. Share the learnings widely in your organization. Keep a record of what happened, how the problem occurred, how you fixed it and, most importantly, what to do so it will not happen again.
Customer complaints are your friends, because they help your business to become better faster. That is if you learn from them and actually implement any changes required for such a customer experiences happening again.
Here are some reflective questions you may use to evaluate your current situation:
- What is the role of customer complaints in your business?
- Are learnings from complaints implemented in your company?
- Do same complaints occur often? What could be done to stop them? That is to fix the situation?
- What will you do this week to improve customer satisfaction?
- Do you have real-time metrics on customer interactions at your disposal? How they help your business to perform better?
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By Janne Ohtonen, EPM Channel Contributor.
Janne believes that the most dramatic changes to organisations effectiveness and performance comes through an alignment of customer experience to business processes, enterprise architecture and innovation. He has delivered tens of challenging change programs, with double-digit performance enhancement in many of them. He holds three university degrees and am about to finish a Ph.D. in BPM. Janne has contributed to a number of scientific research papers including developing organisation’s business process management capabilities and enterprise architecture. His approaches are acknowledged as thought leadership and used in a number of organisations today. Janne Ohtonen is a regular contributor all over the world to C-level roundtables, MBA courses and international conferences as keynote speaker. He also delivers workshops in Customer Experience Management, BPM, principles of leadership, innovation and change. See Janne’s articles on EPM Channel here.