How many customer complaints does your business get?
I am sure you get some otherwise you probably aren’t pushing the boundaries of what your business could achieve in terms of innovation, revenue and profitability.
The truth is that every bit of customer feedback is essential data that you can use to improve your business and your results.
In fact it is often the best free data you are ever likely to get.
Of course, every time I see an “unjustified” complaint after our team have worked diligently and intelligently on behalf of one of our customers I feel personally attacked.
Writing this article is as much about getting my head in the right space as it is about sharing it with you.
Reason 1: The Customer May Be Right
Let’s start off with the one that hurts the most.
The customer may be right. We may have screwed up, missed something, misunderstood the request or simply performed below our standards.
Every individual or business that puts it out there will make a mistake at some point or another.
Investigate, resolve, provide feedback to the customer then fix the process or system that let you down.
A mistake such as this is an opportunity to improve your people, your processes or your product.
Reason 2: The Customer May Not Understand
How well does your company explain the products and services it delivers?
How well does your company understand your customers and how they use your products and services?
Often issues can be caused by a misunderstanding between your business and your staff and your customers.
The business owner who made the purchase understood what she was getting for her money at the time, however, the “doing” is actually down to her staff and they do not have the same level of understanding.
Time also changes things in this regard.
People forget over time and usage changes.
This is an opportunity to identify areas where your business is not providing sufficient or sufficiently clear information about your product and services.
This issue may also be costing you business either in existing customers who do not complain (they just go elsewhere) or with potential customers who fail to understand your offering and also purchase elsewhere.
If one customer does not understand then the chances are that more will not understand either so improving in this area should help both your customers and your business.
Reason 3: The Customer Is Not Telling You About The Big Picture
Sometimes small niggly issues can be hiding a much bigger issue.
If you are getting feedback that you do not understand and small issues seem to be being blown out of proportion then there is likely a much bigger issue lurking in the background.
Heed the warning signs and do something before your customer becomes an “ex” customer.
Reason 4: The Customer Has Identified a New Opportunity
Sometimes a customer complaint can identify a weakness in your product or service.
It may be a weakness that you are aware of and be on the “new feature” list or it may be a feature that you were unaware of that has market potential.
It may simply be an potential improvement.
The customer has provided you with invaluable feedback here.
The fix / feature is important to his business.
Maybe that drives it up the priority list, maybe it doesn’t, however, you now have some real data to base a decision on.
There will be others not voicing the same opinion. By taking heed of the one that does come forward you may pro-actively solve their problems as well.
You may also add a new feature to your product that positively effects your sales.
Reason 5: You Are Working With The Wrong Customer(s)
As your business grows it may be that your products / services evolve to the point where the psychographic or demographic of your ideal customer changes.
Your old customers may be holding on to the past and you simply may not be able to service them in the way that your business did previously.
Maybe the market has moved on.
Maybe an outside force has changed things for your product or service.
Your old pricing model may have been sending you broke.
Or even the fact is that your business has grown and you have made a proactive step in changing the products or services that you sell.
Not every customer can go on that journey with your business.
There may come a time where instead of trying to service that customer and doing it poorly you may have to be honest with them and help them move to another supplier who can better meet their needs.
This is a better result for your business and most often for your customer.
I am sure you can think of other reasons over and above the four I have listed here.
The customer is not always right, however, they can provide you with the best data to help improve your business, your team and your products and services.
So listen to them!!!