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One Very Good Reason for Dealing with Complaints
Unhappy customers are business terrorists. Studies show that every unhappy customer on average tells 11 other people about their experience. In turn, these people tell five other people.

For each unhappy customer, a business earns a poor reputation in the eyes of 66 other existing or potential customers.

I am constantly amazed at the incapacity of organisations to deal with customer complaints. As a customer, I have tried to provide businesses with feedback, only to learn very quickly that the organisation does not want to hear my complaint.

This is in stark contrast to the attitude adopted by a Supermarket chain in the US – owned and run by Stew Leonard. In an organisation that is totally committed to customer service (they even have bus tours to experience the service), Stew Leonard says this:

‘The complaining customer is my friend – they are telling me how I can improve’

There is other research that claims that only one in every 20 unhappy customers actually complains. For every 20 unhappy customers, 19 walk away and vow never to return, without having voiced their complaint with the organisation concerned.

In one sense, this is not surprising, as typically we are greeted with four ‘classic characters’ when we summon up the courage to complain. These characters are described below.

 

The Four Classic Responses to Customer Complaints

The ‘YeBut’

This person has a standard response to all customer complaints. They say, ‘Yes, but on this occasion, you got the product for a good price, and you couldn’t expect it to perform in the same way as the normally priced product….’

Their policy is denial

 

The Yarn Lover

This person speaks and doesn’t stop. They will go on and on to explain why the particular problem has occurred. They don’t stop for breath, andthey work on the principle that if their speaking power can outlast your power to listen, they will win (or more correctly, you accept losing).

 

The Flick Passer

These people have a strong tendency to take things personally, and are prone to getting easily upset. When the customer begins to narrow in on the Flick Passer, their ultimate response is ‘That wasn’t me, there is no way I would have done that…’ They work on the principle that if they can get the customer to feel sorry for them, they (the customer) will go away.

 

The ‘E-OR’

This person is in a constant state of depression about the organisation in which they work. When you raise a complaint, this person will say ‘Oh, not again, he always does that… I really wish I could do something about him’. 

 

The Result?

Over time, we meet the above characters with increasing repetition. The result – we receive bad service, shrug our shoulders, and say ‘What’s the point’.

And it is this attitude that continues to foster the fact that only one in 20 unhappy customers normally complains.

Smart organisations are realising that they cannot leave good customer service to chance. They are active on getting feedback, develop an appetite for listening to customers, and train their staff on how to deal with complaints. At all costs, they avoid responses from one of the four ‘classic characters’!

 
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