Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Learning why customers don't complain, part of Managing a Customer Service Team.
- As customer service leaders, we spend a lot of time reacting to complaints. A customer tells us about a problem, we look into it and hopefully we fix it. We might even do some research to see if it's an iceberg. But what happens when we don't get any complaints? Is it safe to assume that everything is okay? Research shows that this is a false assumption. There may still be a problem, but you're just the last to know about it. In this video, I'm gonna share some reasons why customers might not complain. I'll also reveal reasons why your employees might not pass the complaint along to you.
If you can address these two issues, you can identify problems sooner. Let's start with the reasons why customers don't complain. It may be helpful to download the Complaint Obstacles Worksheet contained in the course's resource files. After watching this video, you can use the worksheet to identify complaint obstacles in your own organization. It might be too difficult. Do customers have to fill out 14 fields just to send you an email or answer 36 questions just to share feedback via a survey? Making it difficult to complain will quickly reduce the number of complaints you receive.
Another reason is the customer might not be confident that your company will do anything about it. If they don't believe your company is listening, why should they bother? The customer may also have a strong relationship with a particular employee, so they might not complain for fear of getting that employee into trouble. On the flip side, a customer might be afraid of retribution. You only have to see one YouTube video of an employee spitting on a pizza to be wary of that. Finally, customers might simply feel they have nothing to gain. Why should they bother telling you about something that went wrong if they're just going to give their business to one of your competitors? You can encourage more customers to complain if you remove these obstacles.
Now, you might be concerned about getting an increase in complaints, and if so, don't worry. That's a natural fear that many customer service leaders have, but look at it this way. Would you rather get a complaint so you can fix it or would you rather not know about a potential iceberg until it becomes a really big problem? As painful as it might be, I'd wanna know about the problem so I could do something about it. That brings us to one additional issue. Customers often complain, but customer service leaders don't always hear about it. John Goodman, that's the customer service researcher, not the actor, he estimates that 90% of customer complaints are directed to frontline employees.
So if you're a customer service leader, you're relying on your employees to share those complaints with you. My own research has revealed a few reasons why employees might not pass along complaints. Let's go back to that Complaint Obstacles Worksheet and see if any of these obstacles might be discouraging your employees. Some employees worry they'll get into trouble if they raise a complaint, especially if the complaint is directed at them. Other employees feel the complaint won't be addressed by management, so why bother. A few employees just don't care.
They either view the complaint as extra work or they dislike the customer for some reason, and they're happy to see the customer have a bad experience. So how can you encourage employees to pass complaints along to you? Here are two steps you can take. The first step is to ask employees for their input on a regular basis. Make it clear that you value the customer feedback that they're able to share. People are much more likely to share information when they know someone is listening. The second step is to use their input to fix problems. Most customer service employees are motivated by doing this.
They're happy to be part of a solution if you'll let them. Some customer service leaders have told me they worry that employees won't be honest with them when they ask about problems. I don't see this as an issue. Employees are generally happy to share if they know you're listening and you value their input. Let them know the whole team is in this together. We want to know about issues affecting our customers so we can make things better.
- Clearly defining outstanding service for employees
- Evaluating service quality
- Identifying obstacles to outstanding service
- Aligning resources to optimize service delivery
- Calculating the cost of poor service