"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." ~Bill Gates

"Close scrutiny will show that most "crisis situations" are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are." -Maxwell Maltz

A common misconception that many leaders have is that complaints are unilaterally bad. In reality, they provide quite a bit of positive feedback that you can use in indirect or direct ways. Obviously, complaints are not good for business as the customer is upset about something that has happened, but using these complaints in the right way is DEFINITELY good for business:

Automated Problem Alerts

The first reason that complaints can be useful is that there may be problems in your organization that you were not aware of that can be brought to your attention through a complaint. This allows you to rectify the situation, and in doing so, eliminate any future problems in the same area.

An Innovation Machine

There is an old saying that problems are actually solutions in disguise, and this is certainly true with customer complaints. If a customer, or a group of customers, are complaining about the same issue, this should be used to redirect the organization toward handling an aspect of their work in a different way. This can lead to new products, new services or a new process. In an effort to address the complaint, you may very well shine a light on a better way to do business.

Building A Relationship

The number one complaint that most people have is that the organization does not actually care about them. This leads to what is known as the “Customer Recovery Paradox” which is the phenomenon where a dissatisfied customer has their issue addressed by the organization, they are actually MORE satisfied than customers who never have an issue. It’s because you showed that you cared.

And the benefit to the relationship extends beyond just customer satisfaction. Once that barrier to initial feedback has been broken, it’s easier to obtain feedback on an ongoing basis. This back and forth communication is enlightening and establishes another route to customer retention.

Understanding The Competition

A common topic that is discussed when a customer makes a complaint is that a competitor is producing a better product, or offering a better service. Instead of looking at this in a negative light, this can be used to help you compete by modifying or improving the products and services that you offer. Many companies would be unaware of how well a competitor is doing until a customer calls to complain. In this way the customer is providing inside information, so to speak.

Learn How to Exceed Expectations

Customer complaints often come from the most demanding customers. If you can take the information you gather from them and address their needs, you have a template for “wowing” almost all of your customers on a go forward basis.

Stop it From Getting Worse

What is worse than a complaining customer? A complaining customer who tells all of their friends, coworkers and family about their complaint. If the customer is coming to you, then your organization has the ability to “stop the bleeding” and make sure that the negative impact doesn’t snowball. And as outlined above, there’s a chance you can flip it around into a positive.

In conclusion, complaints have a positive side to them for any organization because they act as a type of barometer to show you how you are doing. Customers play a role in helping an organization grow by not only purchasing products that can generate revenue, but providing feedback that can help you modify your business accordingly.

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