What happens when our customer complains, but we refuse to hear them? Or worse, we shun their opinion, or tell them we have no responsibility to them? In the past, they may have simply avoided our product or service. Then they became a lost customer. But most modern consumers are savvier than that. They will use their voices to actively move the conversation about the brand in a new direction. They understand how to use alternative channels to be sure their opinion is heard. This is true whether our product is a packaged good, like soup, soap, or shampoo, or a service, like an airline seat, or a belief system, like a charitable organization, or a religious community.
It’s easy to tell ourselves that a single complaint isn’t a big deal. It’s equally easy to convince ourselves that, if most of our clients are happy, all is right with the world. But these actively-unhappy customers are a powerful force. They will band together with others who have similar goals until their message is amplified so much, that your company or organization can’t help but listen. In the meantime, others will have heard what they have to say, as well. Those others may be prospective new customers, or even currently-happy customers.
So what do we do? Faced with a single complaint, we need to remind ourselves that it takes an effort to come forward and speak up when something is wrong. And while it’s possible that the complainer may simply be the proverbial “squeaky wheel”, it’s more likely that their opinion is valid, and that there are many more people out there with the same problem. Engage them in a conversation. Do some active listening. Look for solutions. When you find some, ask them to tell others. If they are willing to use their time complaining, it means that they are still engaged – and that conversion back to the other side of the satisfaction scale is absolutely possible. Enable them to develop and deliver a solution, and they’ll have something more beneficial to talk about. That’s using their power to your advantage.
Megann and Steve