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%).
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, under staffing, 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 uncover 10 ways to not only manage complaints, but eliminate them in the coming year:
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. In the 2013 National Customer Rage Study they 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. 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 user 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 in 2016. Along with making improvements to the user experience (UX), you can also integrate customer service widgets to support your product and curb user complaints.
4. Find creative ways to ask for feedback
As mentioned in the previous two tips, new communications makes it’s easier than ever to creatively 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 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%)”. This year, prepare your call center with the right tools to manage this. Fonolo offers affordable call-back solutions that can boost your contact center operations and decrease customer complaints.
6. Reward customers for their feedback
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 complain about you. 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 remain high on our Top 10 OnHoldWith offenders list and customers regularly mock 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. 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
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. Log 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 eliminate further complaints. Plus, the more you’re reminded, the more you’ll never want to deal with that complaint again.
Now let’s “Cheers” to a customer complaint-free New Year!