Updated June 2020
In 2013, CCMC and NOVA1 Contact Centers conducted a “Customer Rage Study” which found that customer problem rates have increased by five percentage points over 2011 (50% vs. 45%). And unfortunately, that trend has continued over the last few years.
The 2017 Customer Rage Study found that 56% of respondents had a serious problem with a product or service in the last year — a 6% increase from 2013.
The most compelling part of the study is why customer problems had increased. Companies were adopting upgraded programs to handle customer complaints, but unfortunately, they were doing all the right things the wrong way (e.g. complicated automated response menus, no empowerment to customer care agents, understaffing, etc.).
Consequently, when customers can’t get through to agents they turn to social networks to have their voices heard. The viral effect of social venting can be extremely detrimental to your company’s reputation. Therefore, it’s your job to reduce complaints before they escalate to viral defamation.
Here, we’ll look at 10 of the best complaint reduction strategies so that you can not only manage complaints in the coming year but avoid them completely:
1. Deploy new technology
Improving the software in your call center can help create better experiences for both agents and customers. The easier it is for customer service agents to do their job, the better they can handle customers.
For example, implementing a call-back solution can help smooth out call volume when you’re faced with a spike in calls causing longer than normal hold-times.
2. Open up new channels of communication
If your business isn’t already using social media to communicate, there’s no better time than the present. The 2017 National Customer Rage Study found that more than a third of customers use social networks to complain. You can use social media to monitor interactions between you and your customers, and predict problems before they escalate to complaints.
The modern customer expects to be able to communicate with you on as many as 10 different channels. And if they can’t, they’re going to become frustrated.
If you’re already using social media to communicate with your customers it might be time to explore new ways of interacting with them, such as using Twitter Polls to get their feedback periodically.
3. Provide a seamless customer experience
If you saw a surge in complaints from customers about the ease and efficiency of your website or mobile platforms, it might be wise to step up your game this year. Along with making improvements to your customer experience (CX) or user experience (UX), you can also integrate customer service widgets to support your product and help curb user complaints.
When instructions aren't clear or customers can't find the support option they want, a minor issue quickly becomes a big cause for complaint. #custserv #cx #reducingcomplaints Click To Tweet
When instructions are not clear or customers can’t find the support option they need quickly, they become further frustrated and a minor issue can quickly become a big cause for complaint.
4. Find creative ways to ask for feedback
As mentioned in the previous two tips, new communications technology makes it’s easier than ever to uncover what your customers think of you.
It’s never easy to ask for criticism but it’s the best method of resolving complaints and finding solutions. If your customers complained about your website’s UX – incentivize them with a discount code they can only use for the web and ask them for feedback after completing the transaction.
5. Decrease call center hold-times
The most obvious customer complaint is with call center hold-times. The Customer Rage Study found that: “Although posting on the web about consumer problems has increased substantially, complainants still consider the telephone their primary channel for complaining by a margin of 11 to one over the internet (66% to 6%)”.
Voice remains the preferred complaint channel by a ratio of 6:1. This year, prepare your call center with the right tools to manage this. Fonolo offers affordable call-back software for your contact center that can optimize your operations and decrease customer complaints.
6. Reward customers for their feedback
If you want your company to achieve zero customer complaints, you need to listen to your customers. When a customer takes time out of their day to communicate with you, it’s a great opportunity to turn a somewhat loyal customer into a very loyal customer, and loyal customers are more likely to praise you than make a complaint about you.
The easiest way to ensure you reduce customer complaints is to manage customer expectations. Ensure the promises you make are deliverable and communicate frequently about service changes or updates. #custserv #cx #customercomplaints Click To Tweet
The simple act of listening to your customers can help to increase loyalty; people love to be listened to and validated. The reward is up to you, but typically a discount that brings the customer back to your business is the most mutually beneficial.
7. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
When Comcast launched a media campaign telling its customers that they were going to “stop being the worst company” there was a fair amount of skepticism swirling around this promise – and rightfully so. After a year, they still remained high on our list of the worst companies to call, and customers mocked their twitter handle @ComcastCares.
If your company can’t deliver on a promise, you lose your customers’ trust, and without their trust, you lose their loyalty. The easiest way to ensure you reduce customer complaints is to manage customer expectations. Ensure the promises you make are deliverable and completed in a timely fashion. If you don’t, you’re only giving customers more ammunition to complain.
8. Empower your staff with better training
Your employees are your biggest asset and they can easily walk out on you. This affects everything from staffing, operations, and overall service levels, the result: customer complaints. Give your staff a reason to come into work every day. When your staff is happy, they’ll treat your customers better because the company’s success directly affects their own success — and their job security.
9. Improve internal communications
Communicate often and thoroughly within and across all departments. This way you can catch problems and create solutions before your customers can. Facebook recently reported that Mark Zuckerberg is still hands-on with product development, and catches errors well before users do.
No matter what level you are in an organization it’s important to keep your ear to the ground and play a role in making improvements, not only in your field of expertise but as an unbiased third party in other departments.
10. Record and analyze customer complaints
By tracking and logging complaints no one in your organization can use the excuse “I didn’t know that was a problem” or “I didn’t know how to resolve the problem”. Every complaint your company hears should have a case file and potential problem-solving options to help avoid customer complaints of this type. Plus, the more you’re reminded, the more you’ll never want to deal with that complaint again.
11. Get your whole company involved in reducing complaints
It can be difficult to avoid ‘siloing’ in companies both large and small. And one department that is particularly vulnerable to this is customer support. Yes, your customer support agents are your specialists in the complaint management process and handling upset customers. But increasing customer satisfaction and reducing customer grievances are the responsibility of every member of your team.
The companies with the most loyal customer and fewest complaints are the ones where every department works hand-in-hand to ensure that customer expectations are well managed and met. #cx #custserv #complaintmanagement Click To Tweet
The companies with the most loyal customers and fewest complaints are the ones that work together to ensure that this is the case. Marketing, sales, product development, and customer support should be working hand-in-hand to ensure that customer expectations are met and exceeded at every point in their journey.
Record your complaints, share the data amongst your departments, and work together to reduce the number of customer complaints you receive this year.
Now let’s “Cheers” to a customer complaint-free New Year!