Customer Experience News & Trends

The danger in the complaints you aren’t hearing

Customer complaints can help you remedy recurring problems, rebound to build loyalty and improve the overall experience. Unfortunately, you likely miss a lot of those complaints. 

It goes the other way, too. You might not be hearing the great things customers have to say. Of course, those comments are valuable because they can be used to reinforce what you already do well.

But many comments fall through the cracks. Three out of four customer comments made to front-line service employees never get reported to managers, according to researchers at Friedrich Schiller University. They may be informal complaints, but they’re helpful in the pursuits to improve operations, performance and the customer experience.

Even companies that have specific guidelines about reporting customer comments have a hard time capturing all the customer feedback, researchers found.

Handling the informal complaints

Most companies already have a formal complaint handling system that takes customers to a resolution and the problem to a root cause analysis. But considering this new research, it might be a good idea to get a handle on the lesser-reported, informal complaints, too.

For instance, because so many complaints come online these days, Fidelity Investments created a special team of staffers devoted entirely to monitoring the company’s online reputation. They look at the number of positive tweets versus negative tweets, negative wording in online and email messages, Facebook comments, etc. The team then zeros in on negative reviewers and fixes their problems. According to Fidelity’s CMO, Jim Spero, that’s improved the company’s reputation.

Another example: Pershing LLC, got front-line customer service pros more involved in root cause analysis, and created a continuing outlet for sharing the informal feedback they got from customers.

To eliminate pain points and prevent them from happening again, Edward Piscina, managing director/chief quality officer at Pershing, asked for service pros’ insights on customers’ emotions behind complaints when he created Customer Care Teams.

Pershing asked for volunteers to join the teams, which met for 90 days. When one disbanded, the next one formed — they never lacked for volunteers.

Every two weeks, the teams looked at different forms of customer feedback and talked about what they heard firsthand from customers to uncover pain points. Then they shared best practices on dealing with those issues and suggested some permanent fixes to the management team.

They also took the issues they discussed and the best practices for handling troubled situations back to their colleagues so everyone had a bigger toolbox for helping customers.

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