Dan Slavin, CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker explains why handling customer complaints and appeasing customers plays an important role in avoiding negative reviews and reputational damage.
We witness conflicts every day. We see them on the news, in public, on the highways and on social media. We’ve seen example after example how conflict resolution should have been used to deescalate a situation.
Our inability to understand the importance of conflict resolution creates societal issues including problems between employees and between companies and the customers they try best to serve.
Conflict resolution is defined as the process of making choices that resolve issues between two parties. For retailers, restaurants, customer service personnel and those working in call centers, the two parties are generally the employee (representing the company) and the customer.
This can be challenging on multiple levels. The disgruntled customer may feel like they have been abused, ignored, taken advantage of and at worse, defrauded. A customer with a problem brings an emotionally charged drama to the attention of a customer service representative. A bad situation can escalate quickly should the service rep feel attacked or offended in some way. Obviously, it’s in the best interest of all parties to settle the dispute quickly. The only sensible solution to resolve a conflict is to set forth a deliberate plan for customer appeasement.
The Costs of Customer Complaints and Dissatisfaction
While the true costs of customer dissatisfaction are difficult to estimate, several aspects about customer complaints and poor have been researched.
- 90% of consumers will seek out reviews before making a buying decision. This places a great deal of value on positive reviews.
- 84% will trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation provided by a friend or relative.
- 86% will hesitate doing business with a company with negative reviews. This demonstrates the potential costs of a negative review.
- It has been estimated it takes 15 positive reviews to negate the impact of a single negative one.
The cost of a dissatisfied customer reaches far beyond that of a lost sale. Negative reviews can spread like wildfire impacting the buying decisions of others. This can hamstring potential opportunities for sales, recommendations, referrals and new business.
This is why handling customer complaints and appeasing customers is so important.
How to Make Amends with Irate Customers
With consumers ever at the ready to use social media to spread negative word-of-mouth reviews, savvy companies will either post an employee on these popular social media accounts like Twitter or devise a direct feed into headquarters of messages that reference the company by name in an effort to address customer complaints before they go viral. Some consumers may feel like they’ve been wronged. They may want to be placated by a kind gesture that says, “we’re sorry; we’ll remove that item from the bill or give you a free desert.” Or they could receive a generous token like a coupon or gift card; something of monetary value such as a 30% coupon offer or a $10 gift card. Not only is the customer made happy, but it virtually guarantees they will continue to do business with the restaurant or retailer.
What Defines an Appeasement Solution?
Restaurateurs and retailers need to avoid runaway costs and to control how service reps issue these coupon appeasements. The issue is accountability and an ability to track the actions of service reps and team members, the reason for the customer appeasement in the first place, the number and type of appeasements being made to customers, the number of appeasements issued, and the ability to track the number of those redeemed.
When evaluating a customer appeasement solution, businesses will want to consider a number of important features and options such as:
- Anti-fraud technology to ensure offer codes or gift cards are issued to recipients one time only and expire immediately upon redemption;
- Customer-defined reward choices and delivery options that are pre-built into the solution’s menus;
- Ability to send the appeasement (coupon or gift card) via the customer’s preferred digital channel, e.g., chat, text, email, social media;
- Built-in security that prevents the appeasement from being used more than once;
- Ability to track delivery and redemption to ensure accountability;
- Ability to embed the system within your existing contact center software.
The quicker a complaint is resolved and customers are appeased, the less cost and reputational damage will be incurred. The key is providing customer service or call center employees the tools they need to de-escalate customer complaints when they crop up.
You may not be able to make every customer happy but taking a carefree attitude wont likely be a winning solution either. Customer complaints and appeasement should play a more important role than they currently do; these things should go beyond your “business as usual” mode of thinking.
About the Author
Dan Slavin is CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker, a provider of mobile marketing solutions. He was CEO of Framework Technologies, VP of Open Market, and CEO of International Testing Services. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.