Customer complaints are a part of doing business. How you handle them can make or break your business. American consumers filed 2.68 million complaints with the Federal Trade Commission in 2017, illustrating how frequently complaints arise. The most common type of consumer complaint is customer service issues, accounting for 52 percent of all complaints, followed by product problems, which compose 31.4 percent of complaints, and policy issues, which make up 16.6 percent of complaints, a Corra study of negative reviews found.
You can’t escape complaints, but how you respond to complaints can hurt or help your business. Here are three ways to make the most out of customer complaints by turning them into business opportunities.
Improve Business Processes
One way to turn customer service complaints into a positive is by using them as feedback on how to improve your business. Customer complaints often reflect flaws in business operating and training procedures, product design or policies. If you’re getting the same complaint frequently, it may provide a clue to something in your business that needs improvement. Using this type of clue can help you optimize your business policies and procedures.
For example, the most frequent customer service complaint in America is being unable to get a human being on the phone, according to a Consumer Reports survey. Customers who want to speak to a representative and can’t get ahold of one are likely to become impatient and irate, increasing the odds that they’ll stop doing business with you and complain about your business to other consumers. Often, this problem is created when companies deploy automation poorly by using recorded menu options as a substitute for human support. You can overcome this problem by adopting a cloud contact center solution that uses smart AI-powered software to rapidly identify which customers can be handled by automated options and which ones require human assistance. A cloud center with analytics tools can also allow you to analyze which customer complaints arise most frequently so that you know which areas of your business most need improvement.
Recover Lost Business
Another way to turn customer complaints into positive opportunities is by using them to recover lost business. About four out of 10 customers who complain are hoping to get a resolution to an issue, such as an apology, a refund, a policy change or more transparency, Corra’s research found. Seven in 10 customers will continue to do business with you if you resolve their complaint, according to Lee Resources.
This means that you can convert complaining customers into repeat business if you develop policies and procedures that help you resolve common complaints. For example, if a customer calls asking for a refund, offering them an exchange can often satisfy the customer without costing you a lost sale. Rewarding customers with bonuses as a way of apologizing is another way to soothe complaints and encourage repeat businesses.
Identify Research and Development Opportunities
Just as customer complaints can provide you with insights into how to improve your business processes, it can also inspire ideas for developing new products and services. Customer complaints often point toward needs that are not being met by your current line of offerings. Your competitors’ products and services may have similar issues. By identifying customer problems that aren’t being solved by what’s currently on the market, you can find niches that are open for new products and services.
For example, Controle founder Kevin Barnacle started his firm in response to customer complaints about a product sold by one of his previous companies. By asking a customer what the company could do better, Barnacle was able to identify a profitable need that wasn’t being met. When he started his new company, he offered a new product that did what the customer wanted, naming it after the problem the customer had identified. Barnacle says that simply asking your customers what you could do better can suggest profitable opportunities.
Customer complaints can provide you with ideas for how to improve your business processes. They can also create opportunities to turn complaints into resolutions that lead to recovered sales and repeat business. They can even suggest ideas for new products and services. By adopting a proactive approach to handling customer complaints, you can turn negative feedback into positive profits.