“Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.”  ~Lauren Freedman, President of the E-tailing Group

For most of our lives, we have been told how important excellent communication skills will help us through life. Whether it was our parents growing up, our teachers in school, or our leaders in business, developing the right proficiencies will pay off big time. Right?

Well then why is it that many businesses have failed to grasp that concept? Did business owners, managers or supervisors skip that class in school, not listen to their parents, or zone out when the boss was talking?

We have all been frustrated by businesses we frequent when they have ignored our complaints, misunderstood what we were saying, or were not empowered to help us, so we had to repeat it all again to the next person. Or has that just been me?

Some eye opening statistics: 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction because of a bad service interaction (American Express), 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service (Zendesk), and a whopping 95% of consumers share bad experiences with other people (Zendesk).

Can your company afford this negative publicity?

With that in mind, here are a few ways your business can better communicate customer complaints and concerns:
  • Have a single platform that all employees and team members can access across many devices. Have a best practices document that brings together people and processes and track all solutions.
  • Have a social media strategy. In case you haven’t figured it out, this Internet thing is not going away.
  • Provide ongoing training and feedback, especially to younger workers.
  • Make it easy for customers to communicate with you, and remember, different people prefer different communication styles. Give your customers options.
  • Keep your customers informed, especially if there will be delays or setbacks. People just want to be kept informed, even if it is bad news. Especially if it is bad news.
  • If there are problems, work with your customers on a solution. They would much prefer to be part of the process.
  • Treat your customers with respect and take their complaints seriously. Is that too much to ask? I guess for some companies it is.

And last, but certainly not least, follow up and follow through. If you are told a problem has been rectified, reach out and make contact with the customer. Ronald Reagan said it best—“trust but verify.” Pick up the phone, send an email or even a hand written thank you note in the mail. You remember those, don’t you? Your customers will certainly appreciate and remember the gesture. Offer something unexpected, and give them a reason to come back. It will pay dividends for many years to come.

What are some the unique ways you deal with customer complaints and concerns? I look forward to your comments below.

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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