It is said that 91 percent of people do not complain. They prefer to obtain their revenge by not buying from a business that has given them an inferior product or a poor service. They have passive power, and they know it!
The following is a true story -- only the name of the business has been changed.
Blooming Buds was a well-established garden center on the outskirts of a growing town. Two years before it closed, it had expanded to include a cafe, a gift shop and an organic fruit and vegetable outlet. As well as employing a core staff of 10, it took on a number of seasonal and part-time staff.
The company didn't have a customer service policy, nor did it believe in wasting money on training. Customers seemed happy enough. After all, the business hardly got any complaints. No, everything appeared to be rosy with Blooming Buds.
The manager should have been a bit suspicious. A lack of complaints doesn't necessarily mean that all customers are happy. In fact, most of us don't bother complaining. We just walk away and never go back.
The business' expansion, unsurprisingly, led to a variety of organizational and logistical problems. There were staffing shortages and managerial inexperience. They experienced a reduction in quality. Gradually business dropped off, but still, nothing was done about it.
The staff stopped telling the manager about some of the problems they had encountered because he wouldn't listen. He invested heavily in advertising and made sizable capital changes. He never once thought about getting some feedback from his customers.
Eventually, the inevitable happened. The business had to close.
Complaints Are Opportunities
That's right: complaints are actually opportunities. Opportunities to do what, you ask?
You can use complaints to:
- Evaluate how well you are doing
- Identify weak points in your system and processes and put them right
- See situations from the customer's point of view
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Create long-term loyalty -- handling disgruntled customers well often leaves them feeling more positive about your organization than before.
Some Worrying Facts
One unhappy customer tells 10 to 15 others about their experience, and if it is really bad they will tell the whole world. For every complaint that could be made, around 20 people do not even bother. This means potentially 20 lost opportunities.
If you handle a complaint badly or with an "I could not care less" attitude, or worse, if you hide behind the "rule book," you will lose that customer for good.
While the example above comes from the brick-and-mortar world of retail, the same rules apply for business-to-business (B2B) sales as well as e-tail and e-commerce. Whether your team sells and services your customers face-to-face, office-to-office, or over the Web, the strategy is the same:
Welcome complaints, encourage complaints and ensure that your organization is "complaint friendly." Your business will be healthier as a result.