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In our previous post we talked about the importance of improving customer experience to build a lasting competitive advantage and why you need to listen to your critics with an open mind.
In this article, we describe three ways to leverage customer complaints as an opportunity to offer better service and improve the entire customer experience.
Respond quickly and appropriately to customer complaints
Customer representatives are indeed the front line of your brand’s reputation. Treat unhappy customers badly and they’ll go from simply annoyed to full-on angry. They’ll share their criticisms with colleagues, leave you, or vent their frustration on social media platforms and online review sites. Whatever the reaction, it hurts your business.
Complaints are really a second chance to make it right, so make sure you seize the opportunity. With a bit of luck—and a lot of hard work—you may even manage to turn your critics into your biggest fans.
You are unlikely, however, to build a sustainable competitive advantage on customer service alone. There are a few exceptions to the rule—companies like Zappos or Southwest Airlines—but generally speaking, good customer service nowadays is an expectation, not a differentiator.
Besides, customer complaints are only the tip of the iceberg.
Only 5 percent of your customers will even care enough to complain, and for every customer who complains, there are 19 others who will never say a word, but simply switch to a competitor. (Source: Jay Baer).
Transform complaints into actionable feedback
It’s easy to stop at customer service. You could indeed simply develop processes that deliver the best response to the same recurring complaint. But why not prevent the situation from ever happening again?
Your customer service team can play a much more strategic role if you see complaints as an opportunity to fix potential problems before they spread. Analyze the complaints you receive on a regular basis and try to identify patterns. It’s an excellent way to ensure continual product and service improvement. No matter how crazy or negative the complaint is, assume there’s some truth in it.
General Motors, for example, did not ignore the complaint of a customer who claimed his Pontiac was allergic to vanilla ice cream. The company sent an engineer to investigate the situation and discovered that the flavour problem was actually a vapour lock problem. You can read the full story here.
Dare to improve
When you combine the above-mentioned reactive and proactive approaches, it becomes clear that you need a broader perspective.
The goal is not just to improve customer satisfaction after the sale and contain complaints, it’s also to improve the entire customer experience. That means it’s everybody’s job, from product design through delivery and support.
A cultural change of this magnitude can be hard for siloed organizations, because it calls into question the way they work. But more importantly, it calls into question the way people think and invites them to adopt what Dr. Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset.
Having a growth mindset essentially means that you embrace failure as an opportunity to learn. You don’t fear criticism. By contrast, people who have a fixed mindset think that you’re either smart or you aren’t. In their fixed mindset, a failure clearly proves you aren’t.
The radical difference is that people with a growth mindset are not just up for a challenge, they embrace challenges rather than avoiding them.
So, if you haven’t crushed your competitors, it doesn’t mean you can’t. It just means you haven’t—yet.
Customer complaints help you see what your customers need and want, but you can only deliver that if you equip your company with a growth mindset that is open in making everything and anything possible.
Follow us and don’t miss our next post about how you can turn mindset into action in the area of product development.