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Peter Whibley, product marketing manager for KANA Software, A Verint® Company

If there’s only one thing worse than a customer complaint it’s not seeing a customer complaint. If you don’t see it, there’s little you can do. For every customer who complains directly about your business there are many more who are equally dissatisfied but don’t bother to complain. They simply stop doing business with you and you didn’t have the opportunity to turn the situation around.

Complaints are inevitable, and customers are unpredictable. It is impossible for businesses to predict every customer service scenario. Everything isn’t always awesome. Yet, as strange as it may seem, complaints can be good for business. In fact, complaints are a business opportunity.

Great complaint handling positively impacts customer loyalty. It’s estimated that customers who voice a complaint are much more likely to repurchase if the complaint is resolved to their satisfaction compared with a customer that didn’t have a problem. This implies that customers understand that mistakes are inevitable. When issues are resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, it builds trust between both parties. From the business perspective the customer complaint is another moment of truth with the customer, another touch point — and another opportunity to impress.

Organisations have been creating customer complaint handling processes for years, ready to crank into action when a customer lodges a complaint. As organisations begin to understand the impact of complaint management on customer loyalty — and customer service departments start being viewed as revenue generators rather than a cost centres, the approach to complaint handling is changing.

Make It Easy to Complain

Customers don’t care about channels. They simply use the most convenient method of contacting an organisation with their problem. The era of providing email or voice only complaint channels is over. Leading customer experience and customer service organisations are no longer tucking their customer support in some dark, difficult to find part of their web page. They are making it easy to complain. Almost as a badge of honour, some organisations, such as Chase, are so confident in how they manage their customer service that they have their Twitter support link on their main landing page. Great customer service and complaint handling is becoming a marketing opportunity.

Listen and Ask

Complaint handling used to be reactive. Now it’s proactive. Why wait for complaints to come to you when you can reach out to customers and ask. Organisations are creating Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs to listen to customers and ask for feedback. For example, including enterprise feedback management (EFM) as a final step in the end-to-end customer service process allows organisations to survey the customer experience as close to the transaction as possible, and then quickly identify and remedy problems before they become much bigger issues.
Increase Speed

Speed has always been important in customer service. However, social media has heightened customer expectations. Speed helps build customer trust and reassure customers that a business values them. It also allows organisations to handle minor problems before they mushroom into something bigger. Many organisations are transforming the speed of complaint handling by helping ensure customer feedback from their voice of the customer programs automatically triggers back-end, customer service and case management processes.

Continuously Improve

In addition to potentially building loyalty, customer complaints provide an opportunity to improve. If one customer has complained about a service issue, chances are others have had the same issue but have chosen not to complain. Rather than avoiding complaints organisations should instead seek them out as an opportunity to improve business processes.

About the Author
Specialising in helping organisations architect next-generation customer experiences, Peter Whibley is product marketing manager for KANA, a Verint® Company.
KANA®, A Verint Company®, is a recognised industry leader in the delivery of customer experience solutions and, together with Verint, provides Case Management, VOC and Enterprise Feedback Management solutions that can help transform how organisations manage their customer complaints—turning complaints into a business opportunity rather than something frightening. Customer complaints are inevitable; they can also be profitable.

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