by Ron Kurtus
A business that provides quality products or services is seeking complete customer satisfaction. In situations where customer complaints occur, the complaint must be dealt with immediately and the cause of the complaint rectified. Some companies are not concerned with quality and often ignore complaints or deal with them dishonestly.
Questions you may have include:....
How should a business deal with a customer complaint?
How do non-quality companies deal with complaints?
What are the benefits of satisfying complaints?
This lesson will try to answer those questions. There is a mini-quiz at https://www.school-for-champions.com/tqm/complaints.htm.
Dealing with complaints
When the customer pays for a product or service, it is assumed that the product will work correctly or that the service received is as promised. Ideally, the customer will be satisfied, and there will be no complaints.
Solve customer problem
If there is a problem, and the customer complains about it, the company should quickly answer the complaint and solve the customer's problem. This is often done through the company's customer service activity.
To make sure the customer is completely satisfied, some companies will provide some special service or a reduced price on another product. This is done to assure the customer will come back for more business.
Price in customer service
When a company sells a product or a provides a service, part of the pricing should include the cost of servicing a certain percentage of defective products or complaints.
The second thing a company should do upon receiving a complaint is to seek to rectify the problem.
Although a company hopes not to get complaints, they often can be blessing in disguise. Sometimes problems can be caught and fixed before they cause serious negative feedback or even legal problems.
It is in the company's best interest to solve any problems and try to make sure that they don't happen again.
Not dealing with complaints
Businesses that don't bother about satisfying their customers usually get more customer complaints. Answering them can, of course, cost the company money. Some companies will try to mollify angry customers but many don't even bother.
Story of couple on vacation
There is an old story about this couple who went on vacation and stayed overnight at a well-known hotel. They had an uncomfortable night’s sleep and woke to find their bed infested with bedbugs! They were naturally outraged and vowed to write a nasty letter of complaint to the owner of the hotel, which they did when they got home.
Reply from president
Several weeks later, they received a reply from the hotel owner:
Dear Guests –
I was extremely disturbed to hear about your unfortunate experience at one of our hotels. Let me assure you that I personally have looked into the matter and have fired the person responsible.
We pride ourselves on having the best accommodations available, and just the thought of allowing insects in any of our hotels makes my blood boil.
Enclosed you will find a coupon allowing you to stay at one of our hotels for two nights, free of charge.
Please, again, accept my sincerest apologies.
Stuck to the letter was a note, that apparently was accidentally left behind by the secretary. It said, "Mary – Send these people the bug letter."
Instead of solving the problem, the hotel owner simply used a form letter that he sent to the numerous people complaining about the condition of his hotel. It is unlikely these people would ever go to his hotels again. And they would tell their friends about the situation, too.
Complaints that fall on deaf ears
Have you ever experienced poor service or purchased a defective product and complained about it, only to have your complaints fall on deaf ears? Many companies that have plenty of business feel they don’t need to bother with complainers.
These businesses become very independent, especially if they have a product or service in demand. Some continue to succeed, even though they ignore customer complaints, but many will pay the price of lost business and degraded reputation in the long run.
Apology mollifies customer
A company that responds and apologizes mollifies the complaining customer. But some of these companies never rectify the problem, like the hotel in the above story. The act of responding to the customer and apologizing is good business. Not fixing the problem is risky, though, and may backfire on the company.
Could be sued
The bug letter story originated some 30 years ago. In today’s litigation crazed society, the hotel would have been sued for millions. Perhaps that is not so bad, if it is a case of ignoring problems. But if it was an honest mistake, such litigation can be destructive to the business as well as to society. We all pay more for things, because businesses must insure themselves against nuisance lawsuits.
Benefits of satisfying customer complaints
There are numerous benefits for a company to properly deal with customer complaints.
First of all, it will help to satisfy the customer, so you will get repeat business or referrals. In fact, in some cases, effectively dealing with a customer complaint can lead to a more loyal customer than others who may not complain or have problems.
Can rectify problems
Another benefit of dealing with complaints is that you can see weaknesses in your process or products that can be rectified. This will prevent possible future complaints or problems down the line. It is an effective form of customer feedback, although one you hope to eliminate.
Major concern about complaints
For every formal complaint you receive, there may be 10 other customers who were dissatisfied and who felt like complaining, but who never did. Instead, they change brands and tell their friends of the dissatisfaction. It is said that an unhappy customer will tell 13 people about his or her dissatisfaction. That is not the type of word-of-mouth advertising you want.
The company goal should be to get no complaints at all.
Quickly and properly solving customer complaints can help your business grow and prosper. Ignoring complaints or dealing with them in a dishonest manner can result in loss of business or even lawsuits.
Explanation of how to deal with customer complaints to succeed in TQM. Also refer to quality service, Total Quality Management, customer satisfaction, repeat business, referrals, lawsuits, School for Champions, Kurtus Technologies, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.