Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's good business to increase complaints!

The American Express Global Customer Barometer has highlighted the importance of being easy to complain to, especially in places like Australia.

The Australian figures, second to Mexico, highlighted that 86% of Australians will cease doing business with an organisation after a bad service experience. Yet the majority of these Australians will not tell the organisation about their experience. Rather, they will tell their social network, especially if asked. The research reveals that the reason for this behaviour is that Australians find organisations notoriously hard to complain to. So instead they simply switch and tell their friends.

What is interesting is that approximately one in two of these same Australians are willing to give an organisation a second chance, especially if they have previously had good service experiences with that organisation. The issue is that after the second chance, the Australians will simply 'disappear' as customers, especially if there is a viable alternative that is available to them.

The pure economics of the above statistics highlight that it is good business to increase complaints. If an organisation were to become 'easy' to complain to, that same organisation would have more of a chance to 'recover' the customer and maintain a positive relationship with them and stop them from leaving. In simple terms this means that the company ensures that future expenditure from this customer will remain with them.

We are fortunate to live in a world where a customer complaint can be made to a social network and, if you are easy to complain to, that complaints will be heard even though it wasn't said directly to your organisation. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter where the complaint is made, it matters that it is heard and acted upon.

As an example I recently had a poor service experience about an organisation. I 'tweeted' that I was going to write a blog about my experience, which I did the following day. Within eight hours of posting my blog I was contacted by a representative of the company asking for more details and wanting to know how they could resolve my issue for me. Within a couple of days a resolution for my poor experience had been created and I have remained a client of that organisation.

I had no idea that the company had set up (due to a recommendation from a teenage casual contact centre staff member) a 'twitter watch' and a 'blog watch' to look for complaints (and positive comments) so that they could fix them as quickly as possible.

It is in this manner that an increase in customer complaints should be seen as a positive measure rather than a negative one. Unfortunately it is my experience that most companies see increased complaints as a poor result rather than a positive one. Alas, most companies are poor to complain to because they don't want their complaints metrics to rise. Silly, isn't it!

How easy is your organisation to complain to and what are some examples of how this is done?

Gary Ryan has led service excellence award winning teams in multiple categories and is a co-creator of the OTM Service Strategy.

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