I'm a Bad Customer and Here's Why

Posted by Ayo Dahunsi

A couple of weeks ago, HGS USA celebrated Customer Service Week, and I had the opportunity to spend some time with the HGS team in Peoria. I really enjoyed my visit, especially listening to the calls with the customers. I experienced some proud HGS moments that made me smile: “This guy makes me want to spend more money” said Customer A, and, “My good fortune keeps coming in” said Customer B. Pretty amazing, feel-good stuff, right?

While this positive feedback is always satisfying, we also must be prepared for those other calls, relating to negative customer experiences. And yet how many of these customers are we hearing from? How many customers don’t have the time or inclination to complain? Are you, like me, included in this demographic? Here are some facts about customers:

  • For every customer complaint, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent, according to Lee Resource.
  • 1Financial Training Services reports that, while 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.

The good news? Customers who do voice their concerns provide unique opportunities to problem solve. I witnessed this firsthand in Peoria. While listening to calls, I heard our HGS team member Colleen say, “If we don’t know, we can’t fix it.”  This is a favorite HGS mantra, because we know that a relationship with a brand is only as good as the one we create and then support, actively. Just like human relationships, communication is essential for healthy brand/consumer relationships. If we as consumers don’t express our concerns, how will the brand know? How can they fix it? How can they play their part in the relationship? Complaints from customers are opportunities for brands to enhance the customer experience and maintain and nurture that long-term relationship.

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Here are three tips to remember about customer complaints:

  1. When the customer calls to complain, he or she is giving the organization an opportunity to fix the problem. To a certain extent, this customer cares. Organizations should thank their customers for complaining and do whatever it takes to win these customers back. Remember, most customers will never even bother to complain.
  1. Complaints challenge organizations to perform at the highest level. These complaints may provide organizations with important information needed to improve products and/or services. Once implemented, these changes can turn to more growth for organizations.
  1. Complaints empower the customer. Customers feel empowered when they know that a complaint is transferred into an effort to solve the problem. When you empower someone, you are not only saying that you trust them, you are also saying that you are committed to the relationship and building loyalty. Once you’ve empowered the customer, and delivered on your promise, you have positioned the customer to become your brand evangelist.

A consumer who takes the time to complain about an experience indicates that he or she values the relationship.  I encourage brands to not only make it easier for customers to complain, but to also do something about the negative experience.  Take a look at the post by Erin Smith on how HGS manages customer complaints for some of the world’s largest brands.

Who’s going to join me on the journey from bad customer to great customer?