Of course, business owners know that saying is false. Customers can be whiny, angry, rude or downright mean. They can be difficult to handle, especially when they’re unhappy about something and looking to blame your corporation. But no matter how difficult customers may be to deal with – and trust us, we know they can be nightmares – handling the situation with diplomacy, courtesy and good etiquette is essential to maintaining your reputation. It’s also good for improving customer loyalty.
You see, customers who complain might actually be your most loyal customers. They care enough about your company to tell you what’s making them unhappy – and they trust you to take care of it.
The rise of the internet, social media and sites like Yelp has given customers unprecedented power to bend massive corporations to their whims. Even a few people on a review site complaining about your product, service or store can be damaging, but don’t abandon hope if you’ve spotted some negative feedback about your operation. First of all, remember that someone who has had an average experience with your company probably won’t feel compelled to head online and write about it. Only people who have had extreme experiences, good or bad, are likely to want to offer a review.
Everybody’s bound to get a little negative press, but don’t despair. Not only does criticism help you improve, it gives you a great opportunity to prove how much you value your customers.
If the criticisms are valid – poor customer support, slow service, faulty products – take them to heart and use them to improve. Thank the customer for his or her feedback and turn it into a tool to better yourself and your company. Research by TARP has proven that customers who complain to a company, and whose worries and concerns are assuaged, are actually more loyal than customers who never offered a complaint.
Formerly dissatisfied customers who felt that their concerns were sincerely addressed won’t forget what you did for them – and they’ll continue to buy from you because of it.
If you want to find a better way of dealing with complaining customers – or ones offering positive feedback – consider applications like business intelligence and customer relationship management software.
A special incarnation of business intelligence, called social BI, can mine social media websites for data about the people who like, or don’t like, what your business has to offer. You may find that you’re popular with teens but disliked by adult men, or that you’re well-loved by sports fanatics but disliked by housewives. Use that information however you like: You can choose to cater to the demographics that already like you (think slightly sexist, mildly offensive Axe commercials that cater to young men) or you can try to woo the dissenters (think about the Old Spice “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” – more an appeal to women than to men, even though the product is for guys).
For customers who choose to call in directly instead of posting online, CRM software is the perfect way to harness their input and use it in the evolution of your company. CRM can help you take a more holistic, wholesome approach to dealing with customers of all stripes, so that you’ll always be prepared to deal with praise or criticism in a polite, efficient manner that leaves your customers happy.