Complaints are a perfect source of useful knowledge from clients for the organisation. If done right, the initial complaint could also give you a favourable score, restore consumer interest, and even lead to exposure on social media platforms.
Read on for our top tips on how to treat consumer issues, and make sure you’re protected.
The benefits of dealing with customer complaints
If you want to sustain a stable and profitable market, it’s important to attract repeat customers. A single sale to a current customer would cost, by most figures, just a tenth as much as the expense of attracting a potential client and convincing them to buy.
It might sound counterintuitive, but that’s why grievances are a good way of personally communicating with your clients – they encourage you to develop a dialogue and a more intimate connection. This allows customers to feel heard and valued, as opposed to just another sale.
Complaint + satisfaction = customer loyalty
Customers who complain (and are satisfied with the company’s response) are almost 100% more likely to make a repeat order than a buyer who didn’t complain in the first place, according to studies.
Perhaps interestingly, it is the most loyal customers that are most likely to complain. Customers who already have a degree of commitment to the brand are more likely to take the time to get in touch because they want to stay loyal to the brand but need you first to guarantee quality service.
How to respond to customer complaints
First, you need to know how to deal successfully with difficult clients or customers. Speed is very much at the core of complaints management. You need to offer a feeling of urgency – the client/customer likes to know that you’re taking their problem seriously – and fast.
If you have direct contact, either by phone or face-to-face, then you should be prepared for it to be challenging. You may believe you’re not at fault – for example, if you’re a manufacturer, the majority of the problems might actually be due to misuse by consumers.
Insure against mistakes and accidents
This is perhaps the most vital backup and protection against complaints. Especially if clients want to escalate the complaints and demand compensation or even sue you. In situations where all your attempts to placate the client or customer fails and the issue is threatening to become a full-blown assault against your company, you should ensure you have legal protection.
Ensuring you have professional indemnity insurance will help protect you from any possible fallout of escalated complaints from clients, while public liability will help keep your protected from customer complaints. Most organisations can benefit from a tailor-made insurance scheme, and typically you will have covers that shield you from unique threats and mishaps.
Rectifying the problem
At this point, the importance of feedback and the interest of frequent customers will be considered.
The complaint process can be the only way you can ‘win’ client satisfaction through effective complaint handling – and maybe even rewards. When you want to refund the customer or make a contractual concession, the risk of that would have to be measured against the benefits of attracting or retaining a new faithful client.
You may also want to make a follow-up check that will leave a good impression of the business to the client. This follow-up could be as simple as a note, stating how you’ll do it next time, or just sending a bunch of roses. Taking the time to do something special can boost your brand reputation with customers.
Although coping with a complaint will boost customer satisfaction easily and sympathetically, the loyalty will soon fizzle out if the company keeps repeating the same mistakes. Learn from the complaints and ensure that it does not become a recurrence, and you will be able to avoid these issues in the future.