Why You Must Embrace Complaints
24th April 2017
Guest Writer – Cate Schreck
You have put your heart, soul and bank account into setting up and running a business that you know will improve the lives of others. How could anybody complain about that? The cold hard truth is that no matter what products or services you provide, they won’t please all your customers all the time and some customers will want to make sure you know that you could do better.
The word complain in the Cambridge Dictionary means: “To say that something is wrong or unsatisfactory”.
I run a small business and the thought of any of my customers feeling that I am doing something wrong or unsatisfactory without telling me, well that has me pacing the floor at 3 A.M. Another cold hard truth is that most people don’t like to complain. They would prefer to just slip away quietly and leave you wondering why they are no longer taking your calls.
So how do we get our customers to complain and how do we deal with customers who complain in a way that leaves us feeling abused rather than enthused?
Try these 5 steps:
1. Change your perspective. People who complain only bother doing so because they believe you can help them. That’s a compliment.
2. Change the word from complain to suggest. Most people don’t like to complain (most, not all). People will feel much better being asked to make a suggestion rather than being asked to make a complaint.
3. Set up a suggestion system. Ask your customers face-to-face, over the phone, or via an email survey to suggest 1 way you could improve your business. Don’t make it a complicated process. You could set up a suggestion box, but no one (or very few people) bothers to fill out the form UNLESS you prove you read and value the effort.
4. Thank customer for their suggestions. Let everyone know when you make improvements that were the direct result of a customer suggestion. Do this via social media shout-outs, emails or newsletters. As soon as you show you want and value suggestions, you’ve made it OK for people to “complain.”
5. Read Chapter H in my book “The A- Z of Service Excellence.” Shameless self-promotion I know, but there is a 4-step LEAD process in there that shows you how to professionally handle customers whose complaint behaviour kicks in your fight-or-flight response.
Part of being in business is accepting that complaints will happen and emotional intelligence is at the heart (pardon the pun) of how your customers will communicate their needs, wants, and concerns. How you respond confirms to your customers if you are worthy of their time and their money.
And always remember: Good customer service is treating customers how YOU would like to be treated. Excellent customer service is treating customers how THEY would like to be treated.
Author Bio: Cate is the Founder of Lightbulb Training Solutions (LTS) and is known for designing and delivering workplace training programs that educate and motivate staff to work together in harmony and provide consistently excellent customer service.
This article featured in the February Edition of Paeds Biz.