Customers Would Rather Switch Than Fight
It is much easier for customers to switch suppliers than it is to complain. Customers have become more knowledgeable about products and more demanding when it comes to service. If one company is not fulfilling their needs, it’s just as easy to move on to the next.
IMPLICATIONS — WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU
Complaints and problems are normal in the course of business, and customer service representatives will receive and handle this feedback in an established way. When a service representative receives no feedback, this should send up a red flag. Most customers rarely complain, even if they have a legitimate reason to do so. Service representatives need to maintain continual contact to anticipate problems and resolve them before they turn into a crisis.
Most customer service representatives feel that silence is golden—until the next order fails to come. Then and only then do they realize a problem exists. By then it is often too late to rectify it; the damage has been done. In an age of the increasing importance of solid customer relationships, one of the responsibilities of the service representative is to ferret out problems and complaints, resolve them and nurture customer satisfaction.
STRATEGIES, TIPS & TECHNIQUES TO APPLY
It is not hard to understand the dilemma that exists for customers who want to complain, but are hesitant to do so. If customers can be made to feel that their complaints are viewed positively, it is likely they will become more open in the future about identifying their problems and concerns. When this occurs, customer satisfaction increases as problems are more quickly identified and solved, often before they develop into a major issue.
The service representative’s attitudes about customer complaints can work for or against them. If their actions discourage customers from complaining, they can lose them. Service representatives must encourage their customers to voice complaints and react to them in a positive rather than negative fashion. They should bear in mind what customers are really concerned with. In the previous lesson, the following points were detailed:
- Wanting to be heard and listened to respectfully.
- Being served efficiently and with fast resolution of their problems.
- Having their expectations met in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
- Being made to feel an important part of the vendor’s business.
Customers don’t like the idea of complaining. Most individuals want to be viewed as nice people, and feel it goes against their nature to take control and force the issue. Customers often feel awkward and pushy while complaining, which explains why they often fumble for words, get their facts confused, or get off subject. Specific strategies for helping customers complain include:
- Service representatives should listen attentively to exactly what the customer says.
- Service representatives should note how the customer conveys their complaint in terms of their tone, facial expressions, and eye contact or lack thereof.
- As timid customers are more withdrawn, service representatives should praise their efforts to complain. They should indicate that their complaints help them remedy situations, such as the one brought to their attention.
- With aggressive or preoccupied customers, service representatives should continually assure them they and their problems are taken seriously.
- All customers have ideas. If customers are totally frustrated with their problem, service representatives should ask for their suggestions to resolve the problem to their satisfaction. Active customer input can go a long way to solving similar problems or complaints.
- Service representatives should listen attentively and take notes when a good idea is suggested. They in turn should communicate these ideas to their company.
POINTS TO PONDER — SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
- How do you actively probe and solicit your customers for problems and complaints? Explain.
- Do you encourage or discourage complaints from your customers? Compare your answer with your customer retention rate.
TRAINING ACTIVITY — APPLICATION & ACTION PLAN
Create a list of the past 10 problems you experienced with major customers and review them according to the following factors:
- Seriousness of the problem
- Stage of problem when initially identified
- Actions taken
- Speed of resolution
- Customer status (retained or lost)
Analyze your answers and determine the actions needed to strengthen your response in the future.