Different companies state their focus on customers and how their products fit our needs.
However, we as customers often stay disappointed with what we have purchased. Majority of customers (according to some researches approximately 90%) never complain, but just leave. Some years ago, those customers have just shared their bad experiences with their friends and relatives, contacting around 10-15 people. Today, so called „word of mouth“ in times of Social Media has a completely different meaning. Just one bad review or a critic on Social Media, if placed properly, creates an avalanche of reactions, causing major problems and costs for those companies. Being aware of this, companies hire Social Media communication experts that cover exclusively this part of company’s corporate image.
But what happens with customers that do complain directly to the company?
They enter into a cumbersome complaint process that often intensifies customer´s dissatisfaction.
However, this could actually be a great opportunity for those companies. If we already have an unsatisfied customer (and there will always be some), especially if it is our fault (this is inevitable too), why not turning it into an opportunity and exceed customer´s expectations with our approach?
This requires communication skills, empathy and, most importantly, the Board´s decision to invest in such skills of their employees to be able to build strong relationships with customers.
In this respect, Richard Branson stated his secret to success: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Besides the fact that such strategy of caring for existing employees and customers is more profitable than constant urge to get new gross adds while existing customers are leaving, this is actually the ONLY way to sustain business growth. If you take a look at ROI (Return on Investment), you will see that it is by far less costly to care for existing customers than constantly invest in sales, marketing, new acquisition processes etc. To be exact, switch the focus from new customers to building a relationship with your existing customers. Only when you know that your processes are improved and customers satisfied, consider acquisitions. You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation.
But, let´s get back to the chance companies have in their complaint process.
First of all, admit your mistake, if that´s the case! It is somehow rooted in our society that whatever you do, don´t admit it´s your mistake, which is wrong. Great leaders and successful entrepreneurs do exactly that – admit their mistakes. This is human and something we can all relate to. And this is already a first step in creating a good relationship with your customer. As the next step, put yourself in customer´s shoes and show empathy for his situation. If we show understanding for his troubles and anger, we are already closer to our goal. So, let´s not say …it´s your fault, you´ve signed the contract, or, why have you bought it if you don´t like it now…as this is a sure path to a disaster of endless discussions, customer´s leaving and, guess what, his “appropriate” comment on Social Media.
In order to avoid such scenarios, wise companies invest in their employees ‘education, as Richard Branson does.
Results of such approach are remarkable – although customers were unhappy and complaining at the beginning, most of them are so thrilled with our effort to solve their issue to pass those stories further as anecdotes, creating new customers for us, even without our investment in those acquisitions.