How to Reap the Benefits of Customer Complaints

By on September 22, 2014 | Topics: Culture, Customer Service, Employee Training

A few weeks ago, we went out to dinner as a company because we were at an industry trade show.  We chose a national chain restaurant that none of us had ever been to.  As you can probably already guess, the experience was not up to the usual standard that I’m sure the chain normally has.  For starters, it took at least 15 minutes for our waitress to come to our table and take our drink order.  She did do a good job of bringing the drinks quickly and taking our food order.  However, it just went downhill from there.

My Experience

When our food finally came out, my order was wrong.  I had ordered a calzone, but I got a Supreme instead of a Meat Lover’s.  As someone who is a very picky eater, this is a pretty big mix-up.  However, our waitress never came to check on our table to see how the food was, so I never got the chance to say anything.  Could I have stopped someone to say something?  Of course, but I’m not a confrontational person, so it’s pretty rare for me to bring something like this up.  In fact, a lot of people are like this – you may not be getting a lot of customer complaints…but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect.  I have seen some different numbers on the subject, and usually it ends up around 90% of people walk away without saying a word.  That means for every complaint you receive, there were actually 9 more people that had a bad experience, but left without complaining.

The Statistics

However, while customer complaints might not be directed to you, people have no issues sharing negative experiences when it comes to social media.  According to a study found online 45% of people will share a bad experience on social media.  This means two things.  First, way more people are talking online about a bad experience than they are with the business that caused it.  Second, and more importantly, they are talking in a place that you can see.

If people see that you have responded to an online complaint, it drives validity to your business.  Also keep in mind that 70% of people will come back to a business after a bad experience if it was resolved in their favor. While you might not be able to resolve every opportunity in your store, doing so online can still help you retain customers, which is always more cost effective than finding new ones.

With that said, customer complaints offer an opportunity to improve. As much as we talk about asking your employees what they think and how you can improve your business, don’t forget about what your customers have to say.

An easy way to monitor what your customers are saying about you online is to simply search your brand name on Twitter. Every tweet with your brand is mentioned in will come up and you can directly interact with your customers – good or bad. You can also make use of Twitter’s Advanced Search feature, which allows you to filter by location, keyword, and positive and negative tweets. This will allow you to see exactly what people are saying about your industry and brand. Make use of this feature to catch complaints about your brand that you may be missing in your stores. Fore more information on how to use social media as a brand I highly recommend reading Likeable Media by Dave Kerpen.

No one likes hearing that they are not doing a good job, but it is important to listen to customers’ feedback and use it to improve your business. Not only will it help keep the customers around that you never knew you were losing, but also your overall customer satisfaction will inevitably improve.


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