Embrace the Complainers

Why should we embrace the complainers & haters, those “glass half full” types that see the negative in everything, shouldn’t we just ignore them so that they go away and never bother us again?

Customers have been served a bum deal for centuries, those who sell stuff have always viewed themselves as the professionals, the experts in their field and have treated customers as “those folk that don’t know what they are talking about”. With the age of the internet and websites like Google and Wikipedia, to name the obvious, we now all have knowledge, we can now be experts in anything we like because we have information at our finger tips. As customers we are no longer ignorant, the sales person is no longer the only expert, so we (rightfully) get upset when what we buy doesn’t work or doesn’t live up to our expectations.

Thanks to social media it is more important than ever to listen to the negative feedback and more importantly act upon it. In days pre-social media there was a rule, do a great job your client will tell one person, do a terrible job they will tell 10. That rule no longer applies, whether you do a great job or a bad job, your customer will tell the same amount of people thanks to the ease of social media, your organisation is only as good as the last customer post!!

So what should you do when you receive that complaint?

We teach our clients to implement the Net Promoter System into their organisation, this is a fantastic way to reach out to the customer base and get continual feedback. Within the system there is a process called “Closing the Loop” which sets out what to do when the feedback is not good, here is a quick summary of those steps:

  1. React Immediately: When that bad feedback comes in (within the Net Promoter System (NPS) that is a client that scores a 6 or less out of 10) a very senior member of the management team (business owner or CEO) will call the client within 24 hours of feedback.
  2. Be Vulnerable: Whether you think the client is right or wrong is irrelevant, you must reach out to them with sincerity, apologise for them being put in the situation where they felt they had to complain. Ask them for the details and finish with “what must we do to make things better?” When the client is telling their side of the story, don’t interrupt, let them finish and then ask for more details if you need to.
  3. Do What You Promise: At the end of the conversation, if you have promised to investigate and come back to them in a set time frame then make sure you do what you have set out to do. If you have promised to deliver a better service or replace a product you had better do so and in a time frame that has been agreed. DO NOT let the customer down a second time!!

I have yet to see the “Close Loop” process being done that does not turn your “hater” into a “lover”, because customers automatically expect their feedback to fall on deaf ears, when they get that phone call they are already impressed and much of their anxiety and frustration already dissipates during that phone call, hey if you are really lucky they might even post about their great experience to their networks.

Ignore your complainers at your pearl, hell you might even learn something that will allow you to improve your product or service.