Customer Experience News & Trends

What complaining customers really want

Customers who complain want a little more than a resolution, a recent study found. Are you ready to deliver it all?

Knowing what customers want and expect is only part of the equation. Delivering it is even more important.

According to a recent study, customers seldom get what they want when they complain.

At the top of their list of wants: to be treated with dignity. Ninety-four percent of complaining customers want it, but only 35% say they get it, the Rage Study by W.P. Carey School for Business at Arizona State University found.

Top concerns

Yes, every customer who complains does want something fixed. But often, it’s their emotional state that needs more attention than the product, service or situation that’s been damaged.

This is what researchers found customers really wanted, and how seldom they got it:

  • 94% wanted to be treated with dignity: 35% got it
  • 84% wanted an assurance the problem wouldn’t be repeated: 21% got it
  • 83% wanted the company to put itself in their shoes: 23% got it
  • 81% wanted the product or service fixed: 31% got it
  • 81% wanted an explanation of why the issue happened: 23% got it
  • 80% wanted a thank you for their business: 33% got it
  • 76% wanted an apology: 32% got it
  •  76% wanted to be talked to in everyday language, not a script: 32% got it
  • 76% wanted to express their anger and tell their side of the story: 37% got it
  • 52% wanted their money back: 21% got it
  • 41% wanted a free product or service in the future: 14% got it
  • 40% wanted financial compensation for lost time and inconveniences: 10% got it — and
  • 20% wanted revenge: 3% got it.

It’s within reason

Aside from the revenge — which isn’t healthy or safe for anyone — what customers want is reasonable. So here are tips on how to deliver:

  • Say you’re sorry. It’s the easiest way to satisfy the largest number of complaining customers. Most of them want to be heard and understood. An apology — for the inconvenience, frustration or situation — is not an admission of guilt. Instead, it’s a promise to assuage hurt feelings and make things right.
  • Pick up the phone. If customers complain online, offer to handle it on the phone. A voice is far more assuring than some typed words, and the effort to make a personal contact will impress upset customers.
  • Extend yourself. After an apology and efforts to make things right, remind customers how they can contact you directly to get issues resolved quickly and personally. They’ll feel better, knowing they have a personal contact.

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