Want to Achieve Customer Loyalty? Deal With Complaints
Customer loyalty can often arise as result of properly dealing with a customer complaint. Despite all of your best efforts, you are bound to have some unhappy customers as a result of harmless mistakes. Customer complaints can be the bane of an otherwise thriving business, and unhappy reviews on social media and through other channels can turn a new customer away before they even walk in the door.
Word-of-mouth marketing is a two-way street. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, an unhappy customer will tell between 9-15 people about their negative experience, and 13% will tell over 20 people. Becoming an expert at converting otherwise unsatisfied customers into active promoters of your product or service is essential for your long-term success and optimizing your customer experience.
We’ve compiled five of the best, proven strategies from customers and small business owners about how to handle customer complaints to turn that bad reviewer into a loyal customer.
Asking For Customer Feedback Shows You Respect Their Opinion
As a business owner, keeping tabs on your social media engagement and online presence can help with uncovering unhappy customers that you may not have been able to find otherwise. Staying on top of bad reviews on Google and other channels is an essential strategy for handling customer complaints.
“I run a small digital marketing firm in the greater Philadelphia area. Almost all of our work is sourced from referrals, so we are very diligent with our online presence and actively ask for customer feedback on all of our channels to make sure that we are serving our clients to the best of our ability. On our Facebook page, we found a one-star review from one of our clients. We sent a response with an apology and asked if they would like to discuss further their experience so that we could do better next time. After chatting with them, we were able to put together a list of some things to work on and the customer said they really appreciated us reaching out to them. They ended up removing the review without us even asking.”
Takeaway: Asking for feedback shows that you value their opinion and can turn an angry customer into a satisfied one.
An Apology Plus Some Free Product Goes A Long Way
People appreciate humility from business owners, and no one is going to turn down free stuff when offered. This online shopper had some high praise to share about a recent mishap.
“I do almost all of my shopping online. It’s convenient, allows me to shop around, and is flexible with my busy schedule. I ordered some dress clothes online a few weeks ago, and when they came 1) it wasn’t my order and 2) the packaging was messy and didn’t look professional. I contacted the company, a small boutique that I love, and they were quick to offer an apology. They said that they had just received a large influx of orders and were sorry that this one slipped through the cracks when it came to quality assurance. They even sent me a discount code with the apology!”
Takeaway: A genuine apology coupled with a token of goodwill is worth its weight in gold when addressing a customer’s concerns.
Honesty is The Best Policy
Being honest with about a customer’s problem can quickly take the wind out of a bad experience. We all make mistakes, and an honest apology with the assurance that the situation will be dealt with goes a long way in maintaining good relationships with your customers.
“I’m a regular at a sports bar in town. I go in all the time for football games and after work to take some time to relax. The other day, my waiter totally messed up my order and it took a long time to get everything sorted out. It definitely made my visit a less than ideal experience. When I went in next, I mentioned it to the owner. She didn’t try to explain it away or make any excuses, she just apologized and said that she would make an effort to ensure that it didn’t happen again. I appreciated that a lot. She was honest and direct, and I felt valued and respected as a loyal customer because of that.”
Takeaway: Whenever you handle complaints, coming from a place of honesty shows that you care.
Following-Up Ensures That You Are Meeting Customer Needs
After resolving a bad experience with a customer, a quick follow-up is a great way to show that you have a stake in making sure that the issue is totally resolved. It works after an interview, and it applies to customer support as well.
“I’m a regular at a mom-and-pop gym near my apartment. I’ve been going for years, but recently the exercise bikes were often broken or otherwise unusable. After a workout, I talked with one of the employees about the issue and they said they would mention it to the owners. Within a week or two, the broken bikes had been replaced and the others repaired. The same employee came up to me at the gym to ask if things were better, and I really appreciated their follow through on this issue. I’ve always loved the experience I’ve had at this gym, and knowing that the management follows up on customer concerns is reassuring.”
Takeaway: Following up on an issue both confirms that the problem has been resolved and goes the extra mile with respect to customer satisfaction.
Keep A Record Of Complaints and Look For Patterns
You track metrics for sales, ad conversions, and engagement, so why shouldn’t you keep track of customer complaints? Keeping a record of bad experiences and negative opinions voiced by your customers can reveal patterns that can then be dealt with. This financial advisor said that it has been a vital part of their customer support.
“We started to keep a record of customer complaints about a year after going into business. By keeping this record, we were able to find a pattern of complaints surrounding one of our flagship products and because of this, we were able to modify it using the customer complaints as a framework. It helped put us in our customer’s shoes, and we’ve had much more success because of it. We still use this method to make sure we are doing the best job we can regarding our user experience.”
Takeaway: Complaining customers can be a great source of data to optimize quality assurance.