Turn impossible complaints into opportunities to shine
Every company has customers with complaints that can’t easily be fixed. Maybe it’s a car buyer who’s disappointed that a manufacturer doesn’t offer leather seats for his economy sedan. Maybe it’s a department store shopper who feels like she can’t find help when she needs it.
In both cases, the solution might be more costly than the benefit. But that doesn’t mean that a company should give up on trying to please the customer and create a potential promoter. Here’s why:
- Word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful. Many executives underestimate the benefits of good word-of-mouth recommendations and the negative impact of bad ones. It’s possible to turn a customer’s complaint into a positive experience, if you acknowledge the criticism sincerely and show that you value their feedback. Despite the complaint, the customer might still recommend your company to his friends if he feels that he was heard.
- Promoters build long-term growth at a lower cost. The notion that loyal customers contribute more to a business seems obvious, but many companies don’t realize how much more. Promoters increase their purchases faster than detractors and they’re less sensitive to price increases. It also can cost more to attract new customers than to cultivate loyalty among your existing clientele.
The complaint might be a symptom of a larger issue. Often a complaint reflects a deeper issue—the root cause.
Maybe a complaint about the lack of assistance at a department store reflects poor employee scheduling that takes workers off the floor during the busiest times. Rather than hire more people, perhaps the store could handle ancillary tasks, such as restocking shelves and handling deliveries, at low-traffic hours. The store could also create incentives that encourage workers to leave their register areas and look for shoppers that might need help.
When it comes to engendering loyalty, every interaction with customers presents an opportunity to build positive sentiment, even if the reason for the discussion is negative.