Why You Should Prioritise Complaining Customers

Fact: a customer is much more likely to tell people about a bad customer experience than a good customer experience.

Jag Panesar

Fact: a customer is much more likely to tell people about a bad customer experience than a good customer experience.

So how do you convert this complaining customer into a happy customer? The answer is to give them the attention they require. You can turn a potential lost customer into a lifetime loyal customer just by giving them the right kind of attention.

Turning the negative into a positive

Picture the scene: you’re sitting in your office when you get a phone call; it’s a customer and they’re not happy with your service. In the moment, a complaining customer can feel like the worst thing in the world. You may feel that you’ve lost that customer, but actually, that’s not true at all.

True, this customer is unhappy, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose them. Think of this customer as a new lead! We spend a lot of time and effort trying to put our businesses in front of new potential customers. When a customer makes a complaint, not only are they already aware of your business and using your services, they’ve already opened a dialogue with you! This is an excellent opportunity to make a conversion; how often do you get potential customers getting in contact with you off their own back?

Let the customer know you take complaints very seriously and do what it takes to make them happy. By doing so, not only will you manage to retain them as a customer, you could end up with them spending more money with you! Lets say, for example, you offer them a one-month trial of your premium service for free. They may well decide that actually, this service is great, and continue to use it as a paying customer. When you take a complaint from a customer, try and see the potential there, as opposed to just hearing the negative comments. 

Stopping the negative word of mouth

Another potential issue with customer complaints is that negative feedback can spread like wildfire. As we’ve already said, a customer is more likely to tell people about a negative experience than a positive one. This can cause problems for your reputation, and take away any chance of gaining new business from these people through referrals.

You also need to be careful with your online reviews. As we all know, it takes two minutes for customers to leave poor reviews on your Facebook page, Google or on specialist review sites, and poor reviews affect your overall star rating. It can take months of positive reviews to negate just one negative review, and your star rating is one of the first things potential customers will look at when considering using your services.

So how do we prevent this? By placating complaining customers of course. If you can offer an excellent complaint handling service and go above and beyond expectations, not only will you stop the negative word of mouth in its tracks, you might even get a really good review out of it!

Learn from your mistakes

Yes, it’s frustrating when you get a complaint. You’re proud of your business, and it can be upsetting to hear that someone isn’t happy. However, you can bet that if this person has had a problem, there are other customers who have also experienced the same issue.

Not all customers will bother to make a complaint; they’ll just quietly slip away, and you might not even notice. Take advantage of the customer that does complain and listen to them. Use it as an opportunity to learn how you can improve, and fix the problem. It will help you keep business in the long run!

The viral effect

You might receive customer complaints through a phone call or email, or even in the post if they’re really old school. Remember though, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to leave complaints on social media. You can see the appeal; it’s quick and easy, they don’t have to spend time on the phone, and if they’re generally a non-confrontational person, they can make their complaint without ever having to speak to a person.

For you though, this means that absolutely anyone can see the complaint. You can’t quietly handle it in-house; you’ve got to react quickly, in front of your entire following. While this sounds scary, actually it can be a blessing in disguise. This is your opportunity to showcase your customer service skills, increasing trust between yourself and potential customers.

You’ve also got the opportunity for some great PR here. We’ve all seen the viral Tweets: a Target employee teaching a customer to tie a tie; Waterstones rescuing a customer that was trapped in their locked store; A cashier in Wal-Mart helping a struggling elderly man to count his change. People love these heart-warming or funny interactions; it’s an absolute PR goldmine, and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same through your social media accounts. Always reply to feedback quickly, and make your reply witty, or caring, or just generally great customer service. You never know when you might go viral!

Turning a complaint into a positive experience for your customers takes patience, and the ability to listen to criticism; but by prioritizing your complaining customers, you’re taking advantage of a valuable opportunity to build up your loyal customer base, and create a stronger, better business.