One of the many differences that I see between cultures are people’s attitudes to success.
In younger, more entrepreneurial countries – such as the USA, Canada and Australia – success/wealth/fame is generally held in high regard. Companies and individuals that have created something of value that others can admire, appreciate and respect.
One of the most admired and respected people in business today is Sir Richard Branson, perhaps best known as being the founder and CEO of Virgin Group. Sir Richard regularly appears in polls as being a person with traits that many aspire to. Even though he dropped out of school at 15 and is mildly dyslexic, today he’s a self-made billionaire that hasn’t seemed to let wealth and success change him or his values. And good on him – few would begrudge his success.
However, for every Sir Richard Branson there’s (at least) one Paris Hilton. Or Justin Bieber. Or any Kardashian.
Customer Complaints: Haters Gonna Hate
Most of us don’t have a problem with people who’ve achieved wealth via merit or talent, especially against the odds. However, many of us have a problem with people who’ve “made it” based on no discernible aptitude on their part whatsoever.
We like people who, as far as we’re concerned, deserve their success. Not only do we not like people who we feel haven’t earned it, but we’ll often go out of our way to berate them.
We hate bankers who get bailed out by taxpayers money before awarding themselves multi-million dollar bonuses. We hate C-list celebrities who sell their wedding photos for a mint to a gossip magazine.
But do you know who else we hate? We hate you. Yes, you.
Every Customer Can Be A Critic
Regardless of who the company is, or what product or service they offer, there are always going to be people who don’t like what you do. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor exist as much as for people to complain about your business as to compliment it.
Of course every business has its fans. Regular customers who love what, how and why you do it. You wouldn’t be in business very long if you didn’t have such evangelists.
But what separates good companies from great companies is not so much how they treat their fans, but how they treat their critics.
So how easy do you make it for your customers to complain?
What touchpoints do you offer that give your customer the chance to give feedback? It could be the waiter coming up to you during the meal to check that everything’s OK. Or it could be a phone call to a client to confirm that they’ve got the approval form and that they’re happy signing on the dotted line.
With the advent of review sites and social media channels, making a complaint is easier than ever. And that’s a good thing.
Because addressing a customers complaint in a public space is a marketing opportunity. Customers recognize that a company isn’t always going to be perfect, and people love companies that show that they care about their customers. How you as an organization address complaints from existing customers helps you earn respect, reputation and trust with future customers.
Complaints From Customers Are A Good Thing
Don’t think of complaints as being attacks on your company, your product, or (even worse) aimed at you personally. Think of complaints as being feedback. Think of complaints as highlights where you can improve your value offering.
Complaints show where the supplier/customer experience breaks down. You get a chance to improve the buying process, quality control, and maybe learn a thing or two about how your product or service is being used in the wild.
The result can be a (hopefully) happier customer, an enhanced corporate reputation and, ultimately, a better value proposition.
And that’s nothing to complain about.