Say "Thank You" to Customer Complaints

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 25, 2013 @ 06:07 AM

Getting your customers to complain is invaluable


The Corporate Executive Board Financial Services Practice Operations Council released a study which found that 90% of financial services customers do not complain when they have an unsatisfactory experience.

Perhaps this is why four banks and two insurance companies account for six of the top 10 providers of poor customer service (

Operations executives at financial services firms are focused on addressing customer complaints and service problems. 

However, by only focusing on those customers that do complain, operations executives are only addressing the 10% of the problem they know about. Ninety percent of problems are not being addressed.

This situation is not unique to financial services. It's a problem in every industry. This just happens to be the industry study I came across most recently.

The topic goes back to the message on the home page of my website and the title of this post -- "Getting Your Customers to Complain is Invaluable."

As Zig Ziglar said, "Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it.  The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business."

In the Corporate Executive Board study, 80% of customers who don't complain defect.

When I worked on a cellular client's customer satisfaction measurement and improvement business, we had significant data that showed that customers who complained were less likely to churn, move to another carrier, than those who never complained.

That's why getting your customers to complain is invaluable. If they don't say anything, you'll never know what needs improving.

What are you doing to get your customers to complain?

Have you empowered your employees to get customers to complain?  Do they know this is a good thing and not a bad thing?

By the way, when your customers do complain make sure the first two words out of your, or your employees', mouth are "thank you!"

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Tags: improve loyalty and retention, getting your customers to complain is invaluable, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement, empowered employees

Getting Your Customers to Complain is Invaluable

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 21, 2013 @ 06:05 AM


Getting customers to complain is invaluable 


Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. --Zig Ziglar, U.S. author and speaker


As much as you want your customers to be completely satisfied with your product or service, it’s rare for any business to have 100 percent client satisfaction.  The key is to have an open channel of communications with your customers so they feel comfortable talking to you, your managers or your CSRs (customer service representatives) when they are not completely satisfied.


These “moments of truth” are great opportunities to let your customer know how much you value their business and their feedback.  This applies to B2C and B2B businesses alike.


Statistics from the cellular phone industry show 30 percent “churn” per year from customers who never complain and only 17 percent “churn” from those that do complain – a 43 percent reduction!


Granted your industry may be more stable than the cellular telephone industry, but the fact is if you don’t know what’s bothering your customers, you don’t have an opportunity to address those things.


Customer interactions provide great insight on product or service improvements that are desired and that your customers may even be willing to pay more for.  You would also prefer for your customers to talk about their concerns with you versus their friends, business associates or your competitors.


My goal for my clients is to get their customers to be “raving fans.”  Word of mouth advertising is the most effective and cost efficient marketing communications your company can have.  Word of mouth, or “buzz,” is exactly what a raving fan can provide for your business.  In fact, the higher the purchase price, the more affluent the buyer, the more important referrals become.


You can monitor customer satisfaction with on-going surveys – paper, telephone or Internet.  Just make sure you leave plenty of room for comments rather than just having the customer check a box.  It’s important to know why a customer checked a particular box and give them the opportunity to expound on the problem or issue they are having.


A better way is to talk to customers directly – either in person or on the telephone – especially those that have taken the time to contact your company with a concern.  This enables you, or your representative, to address the concern directly, ask prudent follow-up questions and even brainstorm with the customer on how you can better meet their needs.


Odds are if one customer is bringing a problem to your attention, many others are having the same problem as well, they’re just not willing to raise the issue.  These are the people that are likely shopping for another solution.


When talking to a dissatisfied customer remember why you have two ears and one mouth.  Take notes, validate and look for mutually beneficial solutions.  Once the solution has been implemented, circle back with the customer to let them know what you’ve done and ask them if they’ve noticed a difference.  With some nurturing, this customer may become a valuable reference and even a raving fan.


For larger companies, with a large customer base, I recommend on-going customer satisfaction measurement and improvement programs where we identify key satisfaction drivers in the decision making process and then measure your company’s performance against those key drivers.


The most important design element of this quantitative customer satisfaction research is the certainty that the performance attributes measured are the key drivers of customer satisfaction.  This can be done with regression analysis following the initial quantitative surveys.


How often you “check in” with customers depends on the frequency with which they buy from you.  A restaurant may want to give the customer the opportunity to provide feedback after every visit while an industrial parts supplier may feel comfortable surveying their clients once a year. 


I recommend checking in at least once a year to let your customers know you’re thinking about them and you care about what they think about your products and the services you are providing.


Once you have this feedback we can create a customer bonding program that will help you keep more of your customers and more of your revenue.  I’ve implemented programs in several industries that have reduced attrition, or increased renewals, by 25 to 30 percent.


Regardless of your industry, or your business model, customers and clients are critical to your success.  Open the lines of communications and get them to complain.  Your business, and you, will be better off when they do.


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Tags: consumer insights, customer satisfaction, raving fans, referrals, getting your customers to complain is invaluable