Customer Complaints Are Good! Really!


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To the chagrin of my teenage sons, I recently joined facebook.  It is fun to catch up with old classmates I may not have spoken to in years.  I have also been able to develop more meaningful relationships with some of my relatives, because I now know more of what is going on in their life.  I know when one of my friends is anticipating making a purchase, has gone to a good restaurant, found a bargain, or conversely had a poor service experience, purchased an inferior product, or has been wronged by their service provider.  They ask for advice as to what they should purchase through this social medium and let all their friends know what their good and especially their poor experiences have been.  In the case of a poor service experience, they let their friends know they should not frequent this or that establishment, purchase this merchandise, or be otherwise subjected to a certain vendor’s service.  And let me tell you.  They don’t mince words. 

I understand why employees may not want to listen to client complaints, for I myself cringe every time someone points out something I’ve done wrong.  It’s human nature.  Maybe the problem will go away on its own.  Maybe they’ll forget.  Perhaps we won’t need to deal with it.  However, this attitude can be very dangerous.  A few weeks ago, I posted Dave Carroll’s hysterical utube video of United Breaks Guitars that details his experience with United Airlines.  At that time I posted my original entry, 4.5 million people had watched the video.  Today, 5.8 million viewers have logged in. 

Still don’t think social media is powerful?  That’s what your competition hopes you believe as well.  And, from a service perspective, not having a strategy around client complaints is very dangerous.  Because if your clients are not complaining to you, don’t assume they are happy.  In all probability they are complaining to someone else.  And with social media today, such as facebook, utube, twitter, blogging, and e-mail, people have the ability to air their complaints to many hundreds, thousands and in some cases millions of people.  

So next time your customers complain to you, realize they’re doing you a favor.  For instead of telling you, they could be literally telling the world about their poor service experience. 


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