When customers complain, rejoice!

Unhappy, vocal customers are a company’s best friend. No matter what industry you’re in, what service you perform, what product you make, or what marketplace you serve, the common thread is the invaluable role that complaining customers play.

Yes, the initial hit may sting – especially when posted on a public forum such as Google Reviews. But the beauty is that these people are giving you the roadmap to improve and grow your business. By telling you what they don’t like, you can fix it and show the world that you listened, cared and cured the problem(s).

Domino’s did this years ago, when a company principal went on TV to say the brand wasn’t up to par, so they were making it over. I don’t know about you, but I’ve become a fan as a result – and I certainly wasn’t before.

Herein lies the rub. Domino’s didn’t know of my dissatisfaction because I never expressed it. I was one of the “silent majority” of complainers who didn’t say anything. Instead, I just frequented the competition.

Currently, Walmart is doing its version of a Domino’s makeover in part because of consumer complaints. Notes Hadley Malcolm of USA Today, “Depending on which Walmart store you choose nowadays, you might do a double take. In a growing number of stores, there’s an entire wall dedicated to organic produce, fresh sushi and a selection of about 50 gourmet cheeses, the result of a scouting trip through Europe last year. Forget just having a cold case of packaged deli meats – now there’s a charcuterie section. Even the layout is more appetizing…Walmart’s produce and bakery sections are being upgraded to make them more attractive and easy to navigate…The changes, Walmart executives say, are a direct response to customer complaints… ‘(Customers) did not feel like our assortment was equal to our competition,’ says Shawn Baldwin, senior vice president of produce and global food sourcing for Walmart US… ‘We weren’t showing them off in the most beneficial way.’…The higher-end feel of its food offering may also attract higher-earning customers who could help increase sales in other areas too…”

In what has become an almost obsessive effort, companies small and large try to enlist people to take surveys about the quality of services and products. It’s getting really annoying. How about someone stepping up to the plate and asking consumers to say what they don’t like? Cut to the chase – a few key questions aimed at capturing complaints before these consumers “go underground” and silent as they move to the competition.

It certainly would be a breath of fresh air to angle a survey in this manner. And, in many cases, the opportunity to vent and hopefully feel acknowledged can prevent these folks from going public on review sites and the like.

Welcome and relish complaints. Then use them to make your company and brand better. Your profit-and-loss statement will thank you for it.


Excerpted from an Article by Mark Lusky Originally Published in L&NW, July 2016

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Mark Lusky, President, Mark Lusky Communications (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. READ BIO

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