Customer Complaints Can Improve Your Business

John Krautzel
Posted by in Customer Service

Dealing with customer complaints is difficult, but negative feedback can actually help your company achieve greater success. Not only can the complaint help you fix a business problem that is likely affecting other customers, but adequately resolving the issue can turn a disgruntled customer into a loyal one who is likely to share his now-positive experience.

Complaining Customers Give Your Business A Second Chance

While a complaining customer may seem undesirable at first, businesses should be more worried about the dissatisfied customers who don't complain and take their business elsewhere. According to research by John Goodman's company TARP, only 4 percent of wronged customers complain, while the other 96 percent simply stop patronizing the business. Members of the second group are also likely to tell an average of nine to 10 people about their negative experience.

A customer who complains is invested enough in your business to take the time to let you know where you can improve. This means he is likely to remain a customer if you resolve the issue. Research performed by the Marriott hotel chain found that 94 percent of customers who had a problem during their stay that was ultimately resolved returned to the hotel. On the other hand, only 89 percent of customers who were initially satisfied returned. Another benefit of customer complaints is that the unfiltered information is invaluable when it comes to improving your company and helping you create a better overall experience for current and future customers.

The Marketing Advantage of Well-Resolved Customer Complaints

According to the TARP study, if a business solves a customer complaint to the individual's satisfaction, that person tells an average of six to seven people about the resolution within the following week. This word-of-mouth effect can help you build a positive reputation that draws in new customers, and it also creates loyal customers of those who initially complained. To maximize this effect, business managers can search the Web for customer complaints that weren't made directly to the business, such as on social media and review sites, and respond by apologizing and offering a resolution.

Handling Customer Complaints

It's also important to create a system for handling customer complaints effectively. This may include training employees to listen to every complaint, sincerely apologizing for every mistake, offering a solution and following up to ensure the customer is satisfied with the fix. Give your customer service team the authority to handle smaller complaints, and ensure a manager is always available to handle big problems. Record each instance of negative feedback, and use the information to help improve the company's operations in the future.

When handling customer complaints, do your best to exceed expectations. Build a stand-out company that goes above and beyond when handling business problems by offering discounts, free consultations or other benefits that show customers you care.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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