A complaint is an opportunity. If your organization receives virtually no complaints this is probably not a sign that you are blessed with the most efficient, committed, and intelligent employee force on the face of the earth. It is far more likely that the few complaints that you receive are the tip of a submerged iceberg of complaints. That’s the picture revealed by an A.C. Nielsen Co. study. The firm found that only 1 in 50 dissatisfied consumers takes the time to complain.
Good customer service encourages complaints. Research shows that complaining customers are overwhelmingly loyal and sincere. They are complaining to you because they care about your business and about the service they receive. They intend on doing business with you again in the future, and they want you to set things right. The final result should be loyal customers who freely proclaim: ‘Wow! We got more than we expected. This organization is responsible. They really do care. We’ll come back again. And we’ll tell others to come here, too.’”
Well-managed companies see customer complaints as a way to learn: “What lesson can we derive from this complaint that will improve our service in the future?” executives ask. They also see complaints as opportunities to impress customers by going to any lengths necessary to resolve a situation to a customer’s satisfaction. In other words, successful companies pay attention to complaints, but they dedicate most of their efforts to preventing whatever caused the complaints. They do this by creating a service recovery strategy.
Instead of maintaining barriers to complaining, make it easy for customers to complain. Encourage them to complain. Your company might then discover a flaw in corporate policy or performance that otherwise would be left to alienate large numbers of customers or clients for months or years. Customers who can complain to your company are less likely to spread their complaints throughout the community, thereby turning away a certain amount of business. As a result, customers continue to buy from you instead of deserting to your competitors.