Josh Liebman is the Guest Experience Evangelist for ROLLER Software, a company that works with leisure and entertainment businesses to help them deliver better guest experiences. He shares the four reasons why businesses should not shy away from customer complaints. Complaint resolution and service recovery must be a critical aspect of your customer experience strategy. […]
Josh Liebman is the Guest Experience Evangelist for ROLLER Software, a company that works with leisure and entertainment businesses to help them deliver better guest experiences. He shares the four reasons why businesses should not shy away from customer complaints.
Complaint resolution and service recovery must be a critical aspect of your customer experience strategy. While you may be proactive and attempt to identify any possible friction point in the experience so that it can be resolved before it ever happens, there must be a contingency in place for when the unanticipated happens, and your customers speak up.
This requires training and ongoing development of your team to resolve any complaint that comes their way. The more equipped your staff is, the less your customers will hear “let me get the manager” or “please hold while I ask someone” when bringing up an issue. With a consistent complaint resolution strategy in place and your staff fully equipped to fix problems, it doesn’t mean that complaints will go away. Still, it will make things substantially more manageable, and it ultimately leads to fostering stronger relationships with your customers.
But it doesn’t mean that every member of your staff will be on board with your strategy. Some are more adept at challenging situations than others. Some might present concerns that resolving complaints only encourages more complaints, creating a snowball effect that grows every time a complaint is received and resolved. If the customer is happy after they’ve complained, it must mean that you are reinforcing the behavior.
This seems like a bad thing, but when you pull back, it isn’t. The more you encourage your customers to complain, the more your business will grow. Here are four things to consider if you are concerned that you are creating a culture of complaining from your customers:
The biggest concern with encouraging complaints is that it may result in people complaining because they know you’ll do something – maybe they’ll get something for free, or they’ll get a refund or a discount on a future purchase. It would seem that this can be long-term damage to your business if word gets out that you’ll give away the farm. However, look at the volume of customer feedback you get and separate them into legitimate issues and surface-level whining. You’ll find that the former far exceeds the latter. Even though you may occasionally give something to someone who doesn’t deserve it, that shouldn’t stop you from solving problems from people who genuinely need it the most.
Your customer communications should always be fully documented, whether positive or negative feedback, including what the outcome was, by whom it was offered and fulfilled, and when the case is closed out. If your records are up to date, a repeat offender will build a track record that you can reference the next time they complain. If they start to show a trend that suggests that this is something they’ve complained about in the past and had it resolved, it allows you to open the conversation to inquire how this is different.
And when they realize that you’re catching onto them, they will often pull back.
Let’s say that you get a higher-than-average amount of complaints with questionable legitimacy. One of the most critical components of service recovery is how the issue is resolved, and keep in mind that service recovery isn’t just about giving things away for free. It is about restoring a customer’s confidence in your business so that they return and continue to advocate for you. That means that you should examine your offerings and determine what will provide a high value to the customer with minimal or no cost to the business? What can you put in place that will affect their next purchase or visit that will require them to spend more money? The best service recovery is when there is a win-win outcome, and if someone thinks they can pull a fast one on you, you’re actually the winner in the end, even if they feel they’ve won too.
All of this leads to the final and most crucial point: you need complaints to improve. You must see your business from the lens of the customer, so you can understand the pain points that you can resolve. If you don’t know it, you can’t fix it. Every complaint is an opportunity for you to improve, and therefore should be treated as a gift, not a burden. When you are equipped and prepared to deal with issues as they come up, the snowball that builds from enabling a culture of complaints is your growth, not your demise.
Don’t run from complaints. Run toward them, embrace them, and seek them out at every opportunity. This will allow you to recover from each specific instance while gaining critical intelligence that moves your business into the future.
Josh Liebman is the Guest Experience Evangelist for ROLLER Software. With more than 16 years of experience in the attractions industry, Josh specializes in guest experience, including hospitality standards, complaint resolution, and guest feedback.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
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