It's Good to Encourage Your Customers to Complain

Lauren Krause
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The first step toward achieving good customer service is realizing that complaint-free transactions do not automatically equal happy customers. Customer complaints are often silent because the payoff for speaking up is not worth the effort of a confrontation. Yet, dissatisfied customers are not shy about publicly voicing negative opinions and discouraging others from using your business. Use customer complaints to uncover operational flaws, and repair client relationships by showing your willingness to offer solutions.

What Are Silent Complaints?

Your customer service team may make the expensive mistake of grouping clients into two categories: easy customers and difficult customers. Easy customers rarely complain and insist that everything is fine, while difficult customers question your methods and expect resolutions that meet their standards, not yours. Negative customer complaints offer free insight into problems that prevent repeat business, so addressing those concerns helps you fine-tune your interactions in the future.

Easy customers do not provide a consistent measurement of your performance. Some are genuinely happy and voice their satisfaction. On the other hand, silent complainers may blindside you with scathing online reviews, stop using your service or simply share their poor experiences by word of mouth. At one time or another, most consumers have felt bullied, patronized or ignored by customer service representatives. Those collective frustrations make customers more likely to take their business to your competitors, especially if you have a history of blaming customers or failing to offer resolutions.

Turn Customer Complaints into Conversions

To provide good customer service, you must retrain your mind to welcome feedback instead of fearing it. Customer complaints are often a sign that your clients have not given up on your business. Rather than immediately moving on, your customers want a chance to make a bad experience better. However, they have expectations. Your company has to accept criticism respectfully, listen to problems effectively and respond in a timely manner.

The biggest hurdle is encouraging silent customers to make the effort to be honest with you. Make it easy for customers to share their thoughts by providing multiple ways to reach out. Busy customers are more likely to appreciate short polls, social media pages and surveys available right on their mobile devices, while old-school consumers value the one-on-one interaction of speaking in person or over the phone. When you seek out customer complaints and provide a comfortable, non-hostile environment, clients gain the impression that you care about fixing problems. They also feel safe enough to be open and clearly communicate the details of what went wrong during a bad experience.

Customer service fails when you alienate clients and make them feel as though they are being punished for being dissatisfied with a poor product or a negative encounter. Treat customer complaints as a source of market research to gain insight directly from the people who determine the success or failure of your business.

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