Customer complaints can help you better manage their expectations

In Customer Engagement, Customer Experience by lizhen

After reading through articles and forums, and reflecting all that was shared and applying them to real-world situations, here are some things running through the mind is worth sharing.

Today, consumers are different and things are different. We should know this, "Not everything has a price tag.", but more often than not, businesses try to put up such a tag for almost everything they do. ROI is what they will tell you. But how can one measure the true and absolute value of everything? Move out from the ROI, and we'll talk about expectations which lead to the experience, perception and ultimately, the word-of-mouth customers do for businesses. These are the little magic that customers perform for the business that can create a great impact without having a price tag on them.

So let's talk about the key thing all businesses need to manage: Expectations.

We all have expectations, be it an individual or a MNC. Expectation is a two-way thing – customers expect businesses to know and offer what they want; & businesses expect customers to contribute to their bottom-line. So how should we play this game to achieve a win-win situation? This is something that I think is logical – we help people, but we are helping ourselves more. Applying this to the business context, how can we help our customers so that it helps us more? Just for example, by introducing business to your customer, your customer will reciprocate and in turn give you bigger and better deals.

Similarly, there is one avenue that we are familiar with and may have even established a love-hate relationship – Customer Complaints! This is a tricky thing! It is either you handle it well and create a good impression, or you just don't and leave the impression worse-off. It is important that all complaints are handled immediately, or if more time is required, make sure that you leave your customer with the impression that you are really working on it. Make them feel valued just like how they want it. Do not leave it hanging in mid-air that your customers are left unaided. You wouldn't want to have that helpless or even ignored feeling.

Looking on the bright side, we should be glad that customers are taking the time and effort to write in their complaints. It shows that they care how your company treats them, and wants to help you improve before coming to you again. Compare this to customers who just keep mute about it and never comes back, wouldn't a complaint be more beneficial? Adding on, with a well-handled complaint, impression changes and word-of-mouth may start spreading. Reap the benefits and keep up with it. You should see more benefits coming in.

Till now, if you see how complaints can help you better manage expectations, and is up for the challenge to handle them well, here are some things to take note of when you help customers complain, and how they will help you improve more.

1. Encourage complaints: Market your complaint system and ensure that your feedback forms can be found easily.

2. Know how to say no: When you know you can't deliver, say no. Customers may complain about it, and make comparisons. Read all these from the complaint and learn from it. Take the comparisons as case studies for your company. Emulate and even improve from it. You wouldn't want to risk saying yes and not be able to deliver it well.

3. Understand and manage customer expectations: From the feedbacks received, understand what is going on in the customer's mind, anticipate needs and problems and set realistic expectations through educating and communicating with your customers. Let them know what to expect, and what their obligations are. This will help reduce the chance of you having to say "no" to your customers as well.

4. Keeping the human touch: Automated messages are very common these days, but don't forget the important to maintain the human touch so that customers feel that they are valued.

With all of these, do treasure complaints. They will help you manage your customers' expectations, and achieve your goal of having a better bottom line with customer loyalty – helping your customers to help yourself more. In other words, managing your customer's expectations helps you to better manage your expectations. This is the win-win situation I am talking about. Do remember this – whatever it is, at the end of the day, helping others is helping ourselves more.
If you are keen to uncover more about customer loyalty and how you can help your customers to help yourself more, do check out our event, Loyalty World Asia 2013 now!