Customer Complaints: The Bitter Pill That is Good For Business

Customer Complaints: The Bitter Pill That is Good For Business

By Lauren Todorovic

Word of mouth over time can either make or break any business. If customers have a good experience, they will tell others about how you made them feel, what you did to make them feel or how satisfied they were with your product.

But if a customer has a bad experience, research tells us there’s a higher chance that they’ll tell even more people about a bad experience than a good one.  

With the evolution of technology, in particular, the rise of the Internet, word of mouth has grown beyond merely talking to one another directly.

Social media, review platforms and directories, and digital media are an example of how customers have more power than ever now.

As a business, there’s one thing that everyone dreads – a customer complaint.

According to research by Esteban Kolsky, 13% of unhappy customers will share their complaint with about 15 or more people.

Whist only one 1 in 26 unhappy customers will complain directly to you. And it might seem like an outlandish idea, but that one customer is doing you a favor. 

No one wants to get negative feedback about their product or service – but this can be one of the best ways to know what you need to improve and what your customers expect of you.

A customer complaint highlights a problem, whether that’s a problem with your product, employees or internal processes, and by hearing these problems directly from your customers, you can investigate and improve to prevent further complaints in the future.

In fact, research suggests that if customer’s complaints are handled in a proper and prompt manner, that customer can actually become, not only loyal but a brand advocate.

Resolving a customer complaint doesn’t just save your reputation and branding, it can actually draw in more customers.

How to handle customer complaints

Receiving a complaint is nothing you need to hide from.  Yes, it can be confronting, but there is a right way of handling complaints. No business is perfect, but it’s important to show your customers (as well as potential customers) that you are trying to improve.

Some tips to keep in mind:

Listen and understand

It is always important to listen to your customers. They haven’t made their complaint about no reason – you need to understand why they have made the complaint and what it means for you.

Research shows that customers care more about a quality service than a fast response. In this case, you should take the time to listen and understand the problem and to come up with the best solution.


Don’t be afraid to apologize for a mistake.  There’s an age-old saying in business – “the customer is always right”,  and whilst this may not always be true in your eyes, it’s how you made the customer ‘feel’ is what really matters. 

While some customers may want action to be taken, many are simply looking for an apology and an acknowledgment that they have been heard.

Research by The Nottingham School of Economics found that unhappy customers are more willing to forgive a company that offers an apology as opposed to being compensated.

The research showed that 45% of customers were willing to withdraw their complaint of an organization if they received an apology, while only 23% of customers withdrew their negative evaluation in return for compensation.

Find a solution

However, it’s important to keep in mind that apologizing isn’t simply enough. To ensure you do not receive a second complaint, you need to find a solution to your problem and resolve it.

As an organization, you need to band together and come up with a viable solution – how can you improve the product/service?

This may seem like it takes time, money and resources, but it will be worth it if it ensured you never hear that complaint from another customer again. By appeasing one customer complaint, you can be pleased with many more potential customers.

Follow up with the customer

Once you have apologized and implemented a solution, it’s important to give feedback to the customer in question. Let them know what changes you have made and how your business has acknowledged what their complaint was.

It’s important to follow up with customers to make sure they are satisfied with the solution.

Almost 70% of customers leave a company because they believe you don’t care about them. Following up shows you care. And this makes the customer feel important.

Exceed Expectations

Once you have acknowledged the mistake, fixed the problem and followed up, you think you’re done, right?

Well not exactly, this is your opportunity to go beyond your customer’s expectations.

This could be anything from an handwritten thank you note or checking up with them in a few months to see if they are still satisfied with everything.

By doing this, the memory of whatever complaint they had about you will be a distant memory compared to the memory of how you cared for them as a customer.

6 Things you need to get Customer Experience right

6 Things you need to get Customer Experience right

By Lauren Todorovic

Customers hold the key to the success of any company. So it’s vital that for your organization to get ahead of the competition, you need to listen to your customers.

It seems that everyone knows this – and yet most organizations struggle to keep the customers at the forefront of the business.

Those who do take on such a mentality – and are scaling customer focus – are the ones who are seeing the biggest growth in the customer base and in profit.

Did you know that happy customers are five times as likely to repurchase and three times as likely to recommend a business than unhappy customers?

So how can you ensure that your organization is ahead of the bunch? There’s plenty that can be done, and some are simpler than you think. Putting the customer first doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal – but it does have to be a well thought out one.  

The Six Key Ingredients

Strong Leadership

One of the most vital parts of any organization is the role of the leader. Look at a successful organization, chances are there was a strong leader at the helm of the company.

It is the responsibility of those at the very top to create a customer-centric culture. Without this kind of leadership, the chances of creating the maximum are low.

It’s a domino effect – if the leader believes in putting the customer first, then it will be followed by the lower managers and eventually all the staff in the organization.

Remember, leaders, set the tone for the organization.

Vision and Clarity

Going hand in hand with strong leadership is having a vision that is clear and simple to follow.

It needs to be specific so that everyone within the organization can easily understand the common goal.

The language that you use is crucial as it is a part of the “vision” you are trying to convey. Short simple statements are recommended.

It’s important that the vision you create is something that everyone – staff and customers – can support.

Engagement and Collaboration

While it is important to put the customer first and value their experience, you cannot ensure happy customers without a happy staff.

Employees need to engage and committed to sharing the vision you and your organization are hoping to achieve.

To truly engage your workforce, you have to understand them – what do they like about their work? What do they dislike? Get feedback from them about what they think might make the customers happier.

If staff feel like they are involved in the implementation of better customer service, they will be more engaged.

Listening and Learning

This is one of the simplest steps that so many organizations get wrong – listening to your customer and learning from what they say.

The best way to do this is by having a systematic method for monitoring and collecting customer feedback.

This process is only half done when you have collected this information – if you want to see real improvements in your customer experience, organization has to adapt to the customer.

With that collected information, really analyze what people what and how those changes and improvements can be implemented in the organization.

Alignment and Action

For an organization to succeed – all the different “parts” need to be aligned and working together.

If the organization is marching towards the same vision, and everyone knows what role they have to play, the more likely the organization to find success.

In terms of action, these are measurable steps that are taken to improve the customer experience. This requires a clear plan of what needs to be done and by who.

If everyone involved in not aligned, then you’ll find the actionable steps that are taken will be less effective.

Patience and Commitment

This is probably the most challenging step that organizations deal with – have the patience to see results.  

You’ll often find that most places want a quick band-aid fix, they want to see improvements and real results overnight. But that’s not how it works.

The right customer culture cannot be done quickly and it cannot be outsourced.

Like it or not, the most successful customer-centric organizations in the world are built in an iterative fashion over a number of years.

This organisation is not rigid in their method either – it is slowly altered, practices are refined, and action becomes widespread and aspirational.

It takes all six of these “key ingredients” to truly a success in customer culture. It is imperative that all along this journey, leadership must demonstrate patience and commitment to the process and vision.

Lauren Todorovic