Techniques to Identify Customer Service Problems and Their Causes
What Is A Customer Complaint?
A complaint is defined as "a negative statement made against someone or something."1 In general terms, a complaint is anything that makes one unhappy. It includes both positive statements and negative ones.
Complaints come in many forms.
They include formal written requests sent through official channels such as postal mail, faxes, e-mails, phone calls, etc.; informal verbal communications; and even social media postings.
The most important thing to remember about all types of complaints is that they represent dissatisfaction with some aspect of your company’s services or products.
Why Do People Make Complaints?
There are several different theories regarding why people make complaints. Some believe that complaining helps individuals feel better because it gives them control over events. Others think that making complaints provides a way for dissatisfied clients to vent anger at others. Still others argue that complaining allows consumers to express frustration without having to confront the person responsible for causing the problem directly. Whatever the reason, however, it seems clear that people do complain.
How Often Does Someone Have To Be Disappointed Before He Or She Becomes An Exhibitor Of Negativity?
It depends upon whom you ask. According to one study, only 10% of respondents said that they had never complained about a product or service. However, another survey found that more than half of Americans reported that they had filed a consumer complaint within the past year.
Some studies suggest that approximately 1 out of every 5 people complains about his or her job each day. Other research indicates that between 2 percent and 4 percent of employees file a grievance annually.
If you look closely enough, you can probably find evidence of complaints on almost any website. For example, if you search Google News for “complain,” you will see hundreds of news articles related to the topic.
You may wonder how much time and money companies spend addressing complaints. The answer varies widely depending on who you talk to. One estimate suggests that businesses lose $100 billion per year due to poor customer relations while another report claims that American firms waste an average of $300 million per month dealing with customer complaints.
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, nearly two thirds of manufacturers say that resolving customer issues costs too much time and effort.This means that the majority of U.S. manufacturing companies face significant challenges in meeting customer expectations.
Another NAM survey revealed that 70% of small businesses surveyed were unable to resolve customer complaints quickly enough. These findings indicate that although many companies try hard to satisfy their customers, few succeed.
Ask Your Employees
Customer Service Teams are an important resource for identifying customer service issues and helping solve those problems. They should be involved from the beginning of a project so that they understand what needs to happen before the final product goes into production. If possible, involve representatives from various departments when developing new processes or procedures. This approach ensures that everyone understands the importance of good customer service.
In addition, managers need to take responsibility for ensuring that employee training programs include information about handling customer complaints effectively. In fact, this type of training could help reduce turnover rates among staff members.
Finally, supervisors must ensure that employees have access to appropriate resources such as telephone hotlines, websites, and email addresses where they can provide feedback about customer service experiences.
Ask For Reviews
Encourage your customers to leave reviews online. You might even consider asking them to do it yourself! Many sites offer free tools to make it easy for consumers to post comments. Some review services also allow users to rate products based on criteria like price, quality, convenience, etc.
Reviews give you valuable insight into consumer perceptions of your company. When people read positive reviews, they tend to trust the opinions expressed more than negative ones. As a result, these types of posts often increase sales. A study conducted by the University of California at San Diego found that consumers prefer receiving positive messages over negative ones. Because most social media platforms encourage interaction between brands and customers, posting glowing reviews is likely to get noticed.
The Bottom Line: Customer satisfaction levels influence everything from revenue growth to stock prices. That's why improving customer relationships is one of the most effective ways to cut business expenses.
Listen, summarize, and repeat
Listening closely to a customer's problem is an important customer service skill. It helps you determine whether there is something wrong with the way you're doing things, if you've done all you can do, and how best to handle the situation.
If you listen carefully without interrupting, you'll learn a lot about your customers' attitudes towards your brand and service. The key words here are "without interrupting." Don't ask questions unless you really want to know the answer; don't tell customers what they think until you're sure they won't mind hearing it again. Instead, paraphrase what they say in order to let them express themselves fully. Then follow up with some kind of action plan. Here's how it works...
Customer Service Example 1:
"Hi John, I'm sorry we didn't call back yesterday to confirm our appointment time. We had trouble getting through because of a technical glitch. Are you still available today?"
Customer Service Example 2:
"Good morning Mary, my name is Brian Smith. Unfortunately, we ran out of paper towels last week. Would you please send us another box? Thank you very much!"
Here are two examples of listening skills. Notice how each person takes turns talking while the other listens attentively. Also notice that both listeners try to respond appropriately after every statement made.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
When dealing with dissatisfied customers, you may not always know exactly which mistake led to the complaint. However, you will almost certainly discover mistakes along the way. These errors usually occur during routine transactions and create opportunities for improvement. To avoid repeating past blunders, develop systems that prevent future incidents. For instance, implement standard operating procedures whenever possible. SOPs outline any steps required prior to completion of a transaction. By following established protocols, you minimize human error.
For example, many companies use pre-printed forms to collect data from customers. Customers fill out the forms and hand them in to store clerks.
Look At The Data
Look into your data for places where customers are struggling. If you see trends developing over time, take corrective actions immediately. This will help ensure that customers receive consistent quality throughout the year. In addition, keep track of comments posted on review sites such as Yelp or Google Places. Analyze these posts and look for common themes among negative feedback. You might be surprised at the number of issues people have when interacting with your company. As long as this is happening in only a few locations, however, chances are good that you're handling the complaints effectively.
Use Social Media Monitoring Tools
Social media monitoring tools allow employees to quickly scan online forums like Twitter and Facebook to spot emerging customer support concerns before they become major problems. Companies like Zendesk offer free services that provide real-time alerts based on keywords related to your industry. By analyzing tweets and blog entries, you'll gain insights into areas requiring immediate attention. Use this information to improve existing processes and add new features so you can better serve your customers.
Ask Questions About Complaints
Asking open-ended questions allows you to gather more detailed information than closed ended ones. Closed-ended questions require yes/no answers, whereas open-ended queries invite responses ranging from unhelpful to helpful.
By asking simple, direct questions, you show interest in resolving the issue rather than just passing blame. When used correctly, open-ended questions also give you insight into customer needs and expectations.
What Can Companies Learn from Customer Service Problems?
Companies have learned a lot from handling customer complaints. In fact, there are so many lessons to be gained from these experiences that we could write a book just listing them! Here are five things that companies should consider when trying to improve their customer service.
1) Listen carefully to what customers want. This includes listening not only to what they tell you but also to what they don’t say. If someone tells you something negative, take note of this information. It might help you avoid future mistakes.
2) Don’t assume that everyone wants exactly the same thing. When you hear a complaint, pay attention to whether the issue relates specifically to your business model. You may discover that certain aspects of your offering aren’t as popular as other parts.
3) Ask yourself questions before acting. Consider asking yourself such questions as: What would I like my customers to know? How does this situation relate to our brand identity? Why did this happen? Is this really worth spending resources on?
4) Think long-term. Although short term gains seem attractive, focusing solely on immediate results often leads to bigger problems down the road. Instead, focus on building relationships with your customers. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that they will return again and again.
5) Remember that no matter how good your customer service team is, sometimes bad luck happens. Even the best teams can make errors or miss opportunities. So even though it seems unfair at times, accept responsibility for failures and learn from them.
The Bottom Line
Customer satisfaction isn’t always easy. But it doesn’t need to be complicated either. As long as you keep learning from past experience, you can build a solid foundation for success.
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