The National elections are just around the corner. How privileged are we, as South Africans, to have the liberty to vote.

Have you ever thought about how your customers vote? More than nine times out of ten, consumers who are dissatisfied in some way simply steer clear of the offending business. In other words, you don’t know who your disgruntled clients are. Here are some eye-opening figures:

“The customer’s perception is your reality.” — Kate Zabriskie

 So why, then, don’t customers complain more?

  • It’s a hassle.
  • They don’t think it will make any difference.
  • They don’t want to make a scene.
  • They’re in a hurry.
  • They don’t want to get an employee into trouble.
  • It’s easier to go somewhere else.
  • The think the employees are too incompetent to handle the complaint.

It may feel counter-intuitive to actively urge customers to complain. Yet even the top organisations don’t get everything right all of the time. There is so much to be learned and gained from the insights obtained through customer feedback.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” -Bill Gates

Your customers offer a wealth of solutions – from better service ideas, to design tweaks, to more streamlined workflow. All that is needed is a change of mindset. Here are some mantras you can share with your staff to eliminate the negative connotations associated with customer complaints:

“I welcome complaints and view them as events that should be encouraged.”

“I see complaints as opportunities to build trust and loyalty.”

 “I view complaints as an opportunity to solve a small problem before it becomes a crisis.”

Considering how valuable customer complaints are, it is a no-brainer then to make it easy to complain. How do you encourage customer complaints?

  • When you see a puzzled-looking customer, offer assistance.
  • Listen out for uncertainty in a customer’s voice.
  • Thank customers for bringing problems to your attention.
  • Follow up with your customers to ensure that their needs are satisfied.
  • Place a suggestion box or SMS hotline in a visible place for customers to use.

“Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.” — Alan Weiss

Up for the challenge? Let us know how you and your team have successfully changed your view of complaints – especially if you have a “happy ending” to share.

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