If you own a business, whether it’s small, mid-size or a large enterprise organization, you have experience dealing with customer complaints. But are you giving your customers (and prospective customers) what they want when you answer their questions or attempt to solve their problems?

What You Don’t Know About Customer Complaints Could Be Hurting Your Business
Before you answer, it’s a good idea to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. In other words, do you know the best strategies to deal with disgruntled or angry customers? Do you know how your customers want you to communicate with them? Do you know how much one dissatisfied customer could be hurting your business?

Customer Complaints by the Numbers

When your actions cause a customer to feel dissatisfied, you lose more than just that customer. The reason? Unhappy customers talk—a lot. In fact, unhappy customers are far more likely to describe their bad experience than happy ones are to talk about the great job your business did for them.

What this means for your business is that keeping your customers happy and satisfied should be among our top marketing objectives. Consider, for example, these head-turning metrics from Groove:

  • On average, a satisfied customer will tell 9 of their friends and family about the good experience they had with your business
  • For every dissatisfied customer you know about, there are almost 30 others you don’t know about
  • Every unhappy customer you have will, on average, tell 16 other people about their bad experience
  • The odds of selling more products or services to one happy customer are 16 times higher than selling to a new customer (and a lot less expensive)

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How Do Most Customers Want to Communicate with Your Business?

This is a key question and knowing the right answer could do wonders for your business. Why? Because most business owners share some common misconceptions about their own customers’ business interactions.
For example, did you know that most customers don’t like calling companies, the main reason for which is that they assume they’ll have a hard time getting through to the right person (spoiler alert: in most cases, they’re right about that!). In fact, more than 60% of customers prefer having their problems solved online, usually through a mobile app, an email exchange or an online chat service. And research shows that customers who get their questions answered and their problems solved online are generally more satisfied than those who use the phone.

It’s Not Enough to Solve Customer Problems Online—You Need to Do It Right

Let’s say you give customers the option on your contact page to send an email. You figure your job is done—but it’s not. Your customers don’t just want an easy online communications option—they want answers, and they want them fast. A quick response dramatically increases customer trust in your business; a slow response says to them that you don’t really care.
According to Help Scout, for example:
“The handful of companies that respond promptly and accurately to customer emails increase trust in their brand, bolster customer satisfaction, and boost sales both online and offline.”

How to Boost Customer Satisfaction with Prompt Online Help

As noted above, the speed of your customer response is a critical factor in keeping your customers happy—but it’s not the only one. Here are xxx simple strategies for outstanding online communications:

  1. Respond quickly, even when you don’t have the answer: responding to some customer problems requires a little legwork and some time. In these instances, as quickly as possible, send your customer an email saying, “We’re working on your problem and will get back to you as quickly as possible.” When you don’t have an immediate answer and therefore don’t send any response, many customers are apt to believe you didn’t pay attention to their complaint—in some cases, they’ll abandon your business in favor of one of your competitors.
  2. Don’t wait more than 24 hours: again, whether you have an answer or not, you need to respond. The rule of thumb is that anything longer than one day is too long. One great way to ensure a speedy response is to purchase customer relationship management (CRM) software which will automatically send immediate responses to every customer query.
  3. An apology goes a long way: many businesses are reluctant to say, “I’m sorry,” maybe because they don’t want to acknowledge they did anything wrong. That’s a mistake. Consumers are human and understand that even good businesses make mistakes. Apologizing makes them feel better and demonstrates the human side of your business.
  4. Don’t take it personally: even businesses with the best customer service get complaints and negative reviews—and remember that dissatisfied people are much more likely to air their opinions than those who have a good experience with your business. Examine all negative comments and think of them as opportunities to improve your business processes and customer service.

The bottom line is this: the lion’s share of your customers don’t expect perfection. What they do expect is reasonable responsiveness, civility and a willingness to do whatever you can to help them. Always put yourself in your customers’ shoes—what kind of response would you expect in the same situation? If you consistently keep your customers’ happiness and satisfaction in front of mind, you’ll go a long way to retaining their loyalty and maintaining a positive relationship with them.