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While many companies believe they provide excellent customer support, their customers don't necessarily agree. According to marketing consultant extraordinaire Jay Baer, only 8 percent of customers feel like businesses provide good customer support experience.
Some unhappy customers may walk away grumbling to themselves, but others may decide to take their vitriol to the Interwebs. You may not be able to control what your customers say online, but you can always respond to them. Don't fear the comments, use them to your advantage.
Respond, Respond, Respond
Leave no comments behind! Not responding to a negative comment can be the kiss of death for an unhappy customer. Ignoring complaints shows the offending party that you really just don't care about their woes, and we know how that bit goes. Show people that you care about what they think and do what you can to make the situation right.
Even if someone just posted a message of "YOU SUCK!!!" on your Facebook wall, it's worth a response. Find out why said poster thinks that you suck. They very well may uncover a problem that you didn't know you had. This is also a convenient segue into my next point. How splendid!
Don't Hate, Appreciate
You may be familiar with the phrase "haters gonna hate." While it's true that there can be a few people spouting off negativity for no good reason (see: heckling), blocking out all of the haters means that you could miss out on some important constructive criticism.
Customers help you correct problems
People complain because they want you to know something about your company. Whether it's because your company takes too long to answer their phones or your website won't let them buy that cool thing they need to have, they're letting you know about a problem they feel that you should fix. Channel these complaints to work toward improvement.
Use complaints to come up with new content
Customers can be great at finding holes in your site's content. If customers keep asking the same question over and over again, it might be time to create a new page or blog post that directly answers that question. Not only will you get a brand new page for your site that can fit in with your online content strategy, you're also keeping your audience informed.
A little creativity can go a long way
A witty, imaginative response can be a great way to diffuse a customer complaint. If you're really good and people start to catch on, you could have the makings of a viral hit on your hands/electronic device. For example, British supermarket chain Sainsbury's got a lot of positive attention when it took one typo and turned it into a chain of pun-filled responses.
That's one way to turn a complaint into an oppur-tuna-ty.
Create a Good Experience for Your Customers
People like dealing with people, not faceless corporations run by unfeeling robots.
The world hasn't been overtaken by robot overlords just yet, so you still have plenty of reason to provide a personal touch when responding to your customers. According to Bain & Co., even a 5 percent increase in customer retention rates can lead to a 75 percent increase in profitability. It pays to keep customers happy.
Remember, the complaining customer isn't the only person seeing your response. There will be some customers who are hellbent on no longer using your company and nothing you do will change their mind. An open, honest response can engender trust in other people who witness the exchange. Your customers are like a part of your family. There may be a bit of fighting every now and again, but a happy relationship is going to be best for everybody in the long run.
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