Thursday, December 01, 2011

Do You Need More of Your Clients To Complain?

Maybe your business would improve if you heard more complaints from your customers.

Re-read that last statement and instead of focusing on “more complaints” focus on “heard more”.

It might not be about needing more complaints. There could easily be enough available. It might be that you need to listen better to the complaints. Those customer complaints could be an amazing free marketing research resource for you – if you listen.

I overheard a mother protest that she was tired of the school calling her about her son. Wow. Why would she not want to receive feedback from the school about her son? Good or bad news – wouldn’t a caring mother want to know how to help her son? The school was calling her because they cared and thought that she did too. Apparently she didn’t want to be bothered with bad news.

Good or bad news – you’d think that a concerned business owner or company president would want to know how to improve the experience for his customers. Listen without judging to customers and they will tell you what you need to know.

Customer complaints mostly come from customers who care about the relationship and want to improve it. Why would any business ignore this valuable constructive feedback?

Customers who don’t care about you or your relationship don’t complain. They quietly leave and buy somewhere else. They will most likely tell their friends about their negative experience.

You might not like to hear what they are saying. It might hurt. You might even take it personally.

The simplest way to reduce the complaints from customers is to tell your customers that you don’t care about them or their opinions. You can to that by making the complaint process onerous. You can dissuade customer complaints by instructing your staff to quote company policy. You can reduce customer complaints by refusing to talk to customers and instructing your staff to screen all calls.

I agree that not all complaints are valid. But you can learn from all complaints. If you are the CEO don’t be surprised if you don’t like the tone of the customer complaint by the time it gets to you. Just imagine the layers of frustration that your customer might have encountered on the uphill climb to reach you.

If you are the CEO and you are shielding yourself from customer complaints – then don’t be surprised when you get fired – by the customer or by your board.

George Torok

Marketing Speaker


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