Why this Customer Service Expert says Customer Complaints are Great

Updated on 29 June 2018

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Did you know that only 4% of customers will complain following a bad experience while 96% will not voice a complaint? Furthermore, while customers might not voice a complaint following a bad service experience, 91% will not come back and would rather do business with your competitor.

This is according to Femi Adebanji, author and sought-after customer service speaker, trainer and consultant. He is senior CX Strategist at Baines CX, a customer experience and service excellence advisory firm, and also Research Director at The Service Excellence Institute (SEI), a customer service think-tank dedicated to researching and providing customised and off-the-shelf customer service training programmes.

Femi Adebanji

“We should never forget that today’s customer has more choice than ever before in history. If we don’t address their pain-points properly, then we are not giving them a compelling reason to continue to do business with us. And if we don’t, we can be rest assured that our competitors will,” says Adebanji.

Shift your mindset – start here. 

‘Start welcoming feedback’

Rather than seeing customer complaints as something to dread or avoid, businesses need to shift paradigm and start welcoming customer complaints, if they are to survive, thrive and remain relevant in a rapidly changing and competitive world. “Customer complaints provide amazing feedback that allow a business to reinvent itself, reposition itself and stay relevant”, he says.

‘Complaints offer insights’

He believes that businesses need to embrace customer complaints and pain-points because firstly, when customers complain, they give brands insight into what’s working and what is not working. Understanding customer pain-points also give businesses the opportunity to fix what’s not working, build on what is working and ultimately improve how the business is ran. Furthermore, it is not enough to merely embrace customer complaints, businesses need to actively and intentionally act and do something about the feedback.

If we are sincere, genuine and attempt to resolve their issues timeously, it is a great rebound opportunity to turn that customer into a brand advocate

‘The resolution is your opportunity to shine’

“Resolving customer complaints quickly and effectively sends a strong message to customers that we value them and their business; and quite often, those same customers become a brand’s greatest advocate”, says Femi.

When it comes to dealing with customer complaints, particularly for front-end or customer-facing staff, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. Firstly, if a customer-facing staff cannot fix the customer’s problem, then they need to get the right person, with the right knowledge and authority to take ownership of the situation and address the customer’s concerns. “Customers don’t like being sent from pillar to post and being given the run-around, especially when they have an issue they want resolved”, he goes on to point out.

Customers respect and appreciate when businesses take ownership of their problems

Secondly, according to Femi, “if the fault lies with us or our employees, then we need to step up and take complete ownership. Nothing is more frustrating and irritating for a customer than having a genuine problem or having a valid concern and then being given the run around. Customers respect and appreciate when businesses take ownership of their problems and make themselves accountable for resolving such problems.”

‘Be sincere’

“When engaging face to face with a customer that has an issue with our product or service, it is very important that the customer feels that they have our full and undivided attention”, he says. We also need to repeat what they have said to us so that they feel acknowledged and ensure that there is clarity and that nothing is lost in translation. Finally, we need to thank the customer and sincerely apologise for the mix-up.”

“’Sincerely, is the key operative word, here”, he highlights. “Today’s customers are savvy and can pick up if we are being genuine or just going through the motions. If we are sincere, genuine and attempt to resolve their issues timeously, it is a great rebound opportunity to turn that customer into a brand advocate. If we are not, we make a bad situation worse and not only do we potentially lose that customer, but that customer will go on to share their poor experience on social media with potentially thousands of people and you can imagine the immense brand damage that can cause.”

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