Sunday, January 8, 2012
Customer Complaints: Deal With Them, Don't Just Delete Them
Recently, I had a complaint with a late fee from my gym (automatic credit card processing issue), so I posted a request for assistance on their facebook page. When I went back there to check the resolution, having heard nothing from them online or in RL, I noticed that my post had been deleted. No resolution offered. Simply "poof" gone.
So, of course I reposted it. And added a handy tip about social media strategies ... but this got me to thinking.
We rarely remember moments when we've been provided efficient service, since we expect that we will be treated fairly and that most things will go well. Sad but true that we simply don't take the time to appreciate when things go right, or don't even think about it (until we get a customer satisfaction survey.)
What we remember is how we are treated – or mistreated – when things go wrong.
Meaning: Your opportunity to create a loyal customer and promoter – or an unwilling hostage and detractor (or a lost customer and detractor) – often starts when they bring you a problem to help them solve. You might even have caused this problem and all they are asking is for you to undo the damage.
Most companies seem to see complaints as issues to be resolved (and assign low-level, disempowered staff accordingly), not opportunities to reward customers for their patronage and create long-term loyalty.
Many, many years ago, we ordered a product from Home Improvements and it arrived with a chip in it. Perfectly functional, but it had a slight chip. We called them up and they said they would ship another one out immediately. We asked how we should return the chipped one and the CSR said, "Either throw it away or put it in a place where no one will see it and now you have two." (Which made sense for the item.)
I've told this story a number of times and, I expect, this simple and inexpensive act on their part has earned them at least a small handful of new customers over the years. And it cost them nothing. In fact, I expect it saved them money.
So... how do you handle complaints? Do you simply deal with them? Do you delete them? Or do you use them as rare opportunitites to show customers that you value their loyalty.