Conflict is something we all try to avoid, and for business owners – managers and employees alike – there is nothing worse than having to deal with an angry customer. Shying away from the problem, being slow to respond, or worse, responding poorly, can have dire consequences for your business.
Ignoring your disgruntled customers has two downsides: first, by not dealing with their concern, you are likely losing a future customer and, second, you could be missing out on a potential opportunity to improve your business.
Retailers in particular stand to benefit from being open and receptive to customer feedback – good and bad. A business typically hears from just four per cent of its dissatisfied customers. That means 96 per cent of them aren’t saying anything, but probably won’t do business with you again.
Worse still, bad news spreads. Research from Fifth Quadrant found 91 per cent of customers would actively advise their friends and family to avoid a company if it gave them poor customer service. These detractors can be one of the biggest impacts on business growth and a painful cost to your bottom line.
So how do you embrace your detractors and appease their concerns? Here are three simple steps to recognise unhappy customers and turn their attitudes around:
Make sure you are monitoring all communication channels to quickly pick up any issues or trends. It’s impossible to know what most unhappy customers are thinking, but you should be able to pick up what those vocal ones are saying online or to your customer service team. Use a monitoring tool to ensure you can track what everyone is saying about your business and respond where appropriate.
2. Enable your team to take responsibility and action
It’s important that you empower your employees to take action and resolve problems quickly. Just consider these facts:
62 per cent of Australian customers expect a response to their email query within 6 hours of sending it and 69 per cent expect the same for social media
Customer service agents fail to answer a customers’ question 50 per cent of the time
Ensure all employees know the escalation process so high-priority matters are dealt with quickly and correctly. If the issue is wide-spread, prepare statements to go publicly so all affected people are aware and know what to say.
3. Constantly communicate
People like updates. If a customer has a query or concern, let them know you are looking into it before you get started – if you don’t say anything, they will assume you haven’t seen their message, or worse – that you are ignoring them. Be sure to keep them updated throughout the entire process. There is nothing worse than being kept in the dark when an issue is occurring and not knowing whether anything is being done to fix it.
It is also important that you are able to track the customer across channels to continue the conversation by any means they choose. Salesforce research reveals 74 per cent of consumers feel that a company’s ability to combine information collected from different interactions is very important. It’s all about minimising the effort it takes for a customer to do business with you. If they need to expend more energy than they expect, they will leave.
Remember, it’s more profitable to put in the effort to keep a disgruntled customer by changing their feelings than trying to find a new customer. According to Bain and Company research, a five per cent increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25 per cent. Returning customers tend to buy more from a company over time so it’s certainly worth trying to keep them around.
Converting detractors into passive customers or promoters will help boost your Net Promoter Score and ultimately improve your long term growth.
Don’t stick your head in the sand when it comes to unhappy customers; take their feedback on board and use it to further improve your customer engagement.