There is an old saying that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and that is definitely true in a world filled with companies and customers. However, pleasing your customers is not just good for business, it’s plain good sense. Word of mouth has always been part of doing business, and in recent years social media and the internet have made it much easier for your customers to voice their opinions. But most people still have to be pretty upset before they’ll voice a customer complaint. What does that mean? It means that only a small fraction of upset customers submit customer complaints. Many others are simply lost without complaining first.
That’s why it’s up to you to regularly strive to improve your business in order to avoid customer complaints — and to utilize the complaints you do get to make things better for all of your customers. Let’s take a look at five ways you can avoid customer complaints and how you can learn from the complaints you do get.
How to Avoid Complaining Customers (and what you can learn from the ones who do complain)
1. Manage Customer Expectations
Often, customer complaints are caused by frustration, and that feeling can be boiled down to one thing: the customer did not receive what they expected to receive. It doesn’t matter if the unfulfilled expectation is in a service provided or a product offered. Your customer didn’t get something they expected to. In order to prevent this type of frustration, it’s important to make sure that your customers’ expectations match what your company offers. Here are a few ways that you can help manage customer expectations to avoid complaints.
- Provide a clear, in-depth description of each product or service.
- Make sure your list any and all fees or costs your customer may encounter.
- Have high-quality pictures on your website that match your current products and/or services.
- List any likely shipping delays and delivery estimates for any product that will be shipped.
- Provide tracking information as soon as possible after a product ships.
- Keep your customers informed when and if problems arise.
- Only make promises you can keep.
Remember this: when your customers know what to expect — and receive what they expect — they aren’t likely to complain to their friends or online. That’s why it’s sometimes best to “under promise” and “over deliver.” For example, if you tell them that a product will arrive within two weeks of being ordered and they receive the product in just one week, they will be ecstatic. If, on the other hand, they expected to receive their purchase in one week and it took two, they aren’t going to be very happy. Do you see how managing customer expectations can make a BIG difference?
2. Employ Top Quality Customer Service
Providing quality customer service is a huge part of avoiding complaints from customers. In fact, offering great customer service can provide your customers with a great experience that helps create a certain level of brand loyalty. And brand loyalty results in greater rates of customer return and higher lifetime customer value.
Top quality customer service begins by making sure that all of your employees — not just the ones who interact with customers directly — are always polite and attentive to your customers and their needs. Even if an employee isn’t able to help the customer directly, their attitude, speed, and level of knowledge can have a major impact on how your customer views your business. Make sure that all of your workers are trained to treat your customers in a friendly and helpful way.
Of course, customer service also covers the interactions your company has with customers who are less than happy. When a customer needs to work with your customer service department, it’s critically important to make that interaction a positive one. Polite and regular contact lets your customers know they are important to you and that their problems are being taken care of. And it’s interesting to note that taking care of a problem in a prompt and polite way can actually increase customer loyalty in the long run.
3. Answer Questions Before They’re Asked
Before they visit your business or make a purchase online, people will have questions. Giving them answers to these questions in a clear, concise manner can help you gain new customers and retain existing ones. For starters, your website can provide answers to common questions with an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section so that people can get answers fast.
Also, in our world of online reviews and mobile phones, there is some information your customers expect to find quickly and easily. Here are some things your customers will want to find:
- Product or service listings with detailed information and correct pricing.
- Testimonials or reviews that provide a range of opinions from their peers.
- Amenities or services your business offers in addition to your primary offerings.
- Simple, clear contact information including phone number and email address (or contact form).
- Your physical address and/or directions with parking details when needed.
- Options for providing feedback to your company.
4. Use Quality Control to Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Quality control is actually part of setting your customer expectations. If a person receives the wrong product, color, size, or otherwise wrong thing it’s not surprising if they aren’t happy with what they received. In order to prevent these types of problems, you should have strict quality control standards in place.
Quality control applies to services you provide as well. Make sure that all of your service providers are trained to provide the same level of service to your customers. This will help avoid customer complaints about services that were not up to par.
5. Act on Customer Feedback — the Good and the Bad
When you do receive a customer complaint, you can use them to actually improve your business. Take any and all feedback you receive — both the good and bad — and make your company better. If you consistently receive customer complaints about a particular product, service, individual, etc., FIX IT! Your customers will appreciate your continued efforts to improve and their brand loyalty will increase over time.
If you receive good feedback regarding anything in your business, expand on it. For example, if a particular individual in your company gets positive feedback on a regular basis, you should make sure they feel appreciated so that they will continue to provide your customers with excellent service. Take the time to make your company better, and you will see your business thrive!