While customer service complaints may be a sensitive issue, you could also see them as a gift. How do you know what your customers don’t like if they never complain? As Bill Gates said, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” The question is what are you learning from those customer service complaints and, more importantly, what are are you doing about them in the long haul.
In previous blog posts, you’ll find my recommendations for what to do when you’re faced with an irate customer, as well as what to do about those negative online reviews.
However, while you may have immediately dealt with and resolved that specific customer service complaint, there is still work to be done. Organizational leaders dedicated to continuous improvement know that customer feedback is key to delivering an even better customer experience.
What are those customer service complaints telling you?
That’s the question to ask from a long-term perspective, and you’ll only get the answer if you’ve got a system for paying attention. Here are four steps to take to use those pesky customer service complaints for continuous improvement.
- Collect and Record: Consider all the channels through which you get customer feedback. Online reviews? Printed comment cards? Verbally through calls or in-person? Annual surveys? Keep all customer service complaints in one location and document what was done about each one.
- Review Regularly: On a monthly or quarterly basis, as painful as it may be, sit down with your review team and read through the comments.
- Look for Trends: What customer service complaints are you hearing consistently? For instance, the team at Durham Performing Arts Center, featured in 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers, repeatedly review post-performance reviews. They consistently saw complaints about the long lines in the women’s restroom.
- Take Action: When you see these trends, it means there’s an opportunity for improvement somewhere! At the performing arts center, the leadership team implemented simple steps to help clear up the congestion in the ladies room and keep the line moving. I’ve personally experience it and it was truly remarkable. As a woman who has waited in many long public restroom lines, and a theatre lover, I was beside myself as I got in and out in 5-minutes and joyfully made my way back into the theatre in plenty of time for the second act. (Think I’m joking? Ask any woman, and they will tell you. A short line in the restroom is a wonderful thing.)
The action you take will depend on the nature of the feedback. Ask yourselves a few questions:
- Do these complaints center around one of our policies? It may be time to adjust or just let it go.
- Would process improvement put an end to these common complaints? The #1 important factor in customer loyalty is the reduction of customer effort. (Harvard Review)
- Are the complaints about certain people or departments? You could either have the wrong people in the wrong roles, or some additional training may be necessary.
Review, Discuss and Decide how you will use this important feedback to make improvements that will create happier customers. These same principles can be used to make improvements to your internal customer service as well. Remember, also, to review the positive customer feedback you’re receiving as well. The trends in those comments will show you what you’re doing right, what you may want to do more of, and provide you with fodder for encouraging and rewarding your team.
What you do to use customer feedback to inspire continuous improvement? Comment below and let me know.
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of www.RedCarpetLearning.com, and the author of 2 books on the topic of red carpet customer service. Follow Donna on Twitter at @donnacutting and Subscribe to www.theRedCarpetWay.tv for even more tips to help you engage your teams to deliver extraordinary customer experiences. Click here for our free Red Carpet Engagement Toolkit.