Customer complaints are something that many companies dread, but in reality hold the opportunity for continuous improvement if they are handled correctly. Any company that relies on customers to grow their business needs to have a complaints and overall customer service strategy in place. Policies and procedures that govern customer relationships will ensure that every employee and manager within the company knows how to proceed when a complaint is made. While some companies do not put much effort into creating such policies, others have learned the hard way how important it is to have a clear process on hand to handle all aspects of customer communication. The advancements of social media have made it more important than ever to pay special attention to customer complaints and how your company aims to address each and every issue that may arise.
Customer Complaints in the Online Business Sphere
Even if you are a small company that does not have a web or social presence, your customers will turn to the channels they use the most if they have a less than satisfying experience with your company. Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, consumer complaints websites, personal blogs and forums have given customers a voice, and without a clear plan in place, this voice could greatly impact your business. To ensure that you address customer complaints in the best way possible without compromising your overall improvement goals, the following points should be considered.
- Develop clear processes and procedures that govern complaints. This documentation should be available to every employee who is in contact with customers, as well as key management teams within the company. Determine the steps that will be taken, and assign roles to each employee based on these steps.
- Develop a pro-active management approach. A large part of effective complaints management is preventing complaints from being made. Improving your services, products and even staff training will ensure that customers are kept happy whenever they deal with your company. Having a clear process in place addresses risks before they become issues.
- Understand your customers and their needs. Market research is an important part of knowing what your customers require. Customer complaints can occur from poor service, communication failure and a simple lack of understanding in regards to your primary market. By understanding what your customers seek, you can devise projects to meet these requirements.
- Keep abreast of customer reviews and mentions. Tracking mentions of your company online and in the social media spheres will allow you to pick up potential issues before they spin out of control. Tracking plays a vital role in customer complaints management and enables a faster action plan in the event of a serious complaint.
- Act promptly and efficiently when problems arise. Failing to address customer concerns is a crucial mistake that could cost you business. Studies suggest that customers are more likely to discuss a negative event than a positive event, and once a customer complains through other channels, the damage has already been done. Keep clear communication channels open that allow your customers to give their feedback easily and simply.
By learning from each complaint and finding ways to both prevent future complaints and address current complaints, you will be able to aid continuous improvements within your company. Treating customer complaints as unwelcome and problematic however negates this chance to improve, bringing the risk of even further complaints in the future.