How to Hunt Down Hidden Complaints to Gain True Value

3rd July 2015Change Management

Complaints - Woman screaming

Want more sales? Then, invite more complaints!

According to Ruby Newell- Legner in her article “Understanding Customers”, for every 1 customer who complains, there may be a staggering 24 others who don’t bother. Worryingly, 9 out of 10 of these could be lost to you for ever.

If you don’t hear from 96% of your unhappy customers, how are you going to fix their problem and persuade them to stay?

As Bill Gates famously said:

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”

And this kind of feedback is pure gold. So, it makes sense to seek it out everywhere.

What do top performing businesses do?

Top performing businesses such as Amazon:

Make it easy for customers to give feedback

Make this feedback visible to all through online product and service reviews

Acknowledge complaints instantly

Resolve them rapidly

Then they go 2 steps further than many other companies. They look for the 96% who don’t complain.

So how do you find these customers?

Reach out for feedback from as many customers as possible on a regular basis

Continually ask for feedback through postal, telephone or email surveys, comment cards and social media.

Teasing out information from those customers who were not originally minded to complain has another benefit.

In searching for complaints, you often hear a whole load of positive reviews from your many satisfied customers.

Carry out active social listening and intervene to resolve complaints that don’t come in through your official channels

Believe it or not, there are still companies out there that shy away from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other digital platforms.

But no brand can afford to turn a deaf ear to social media channels buzzing with complaints……and compliments.

By actively seeking out negative customer feedback and acting smartly on it, responsive companies manage to retain up to 70% of customers who otherwise would have left and never come back.

By listening and responding to complaints, you demonstrate that you truly value your customers’ business

Numerous research studies have shown that customers with issues that are resolved quickly often turn into loyal customers and even brand advocates.

Still not convinced about inviting more complaints?

That’s understandable. After all, it costs money to seek out those additional dissatisfied customers and deal with them effectively.

However, done well, the cost may be a lot lower than you might think and the margin on retained customers will more than pay for this investment.

Plus, the more customer feedback you receive, the more your products and services can be further developed to better meet evolving customer needs. This in turn results in lower levels of complaint in the future.

The alternative?

The alternative is to remain blissfully ignorant of a large number of dissatisfied customers, accepting that 9 out of 10 of these will not buy again.

Worse still, many of them will generate negative word of mouth about your company and your brands.

Whatever happens, you will have to replace these lost customers.

According to Bain & Company on average it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.

Therefore, it is almost always more cost effective for a business to hold on to existing customers compared with winning new ones. This applies regardless of the products and services you sell or the industry to which your company belongs.

Keeping the customers you have and serving them better is the simple logic of customer experience.

Inviting feedback – the good, the bad and the ugly – and acting upon it is a key driver of competitive advantage in today’s digitally connected world where service can make or break a brand.

Have you reached out to dissatisfied customers who didn’t take the trouble to complain through your official channels?

Do you actively track negative sentiment in social media and engage with this to improve your products and services?

If not, then please start now. Listen to your customers or risk losing them forever!