Guest Blog by Peggy Carlaw
A sizeable percentage of customers who are displeased with service, or irritated, never provide feedback about their experiences, according to the BusinessWeek article titled Blind Spots in Customer Service, citing recent research drawn from the customer service data of financial institutions. Say you have a customer who is frustrated but not fuming—in other words, not upset enough to take the time and energy to contact you about the level of service received (and keep in mind—some people who are upset will never contact you). It takes energy and time—a precious resource for most of us—to let a company know we’re dissatisfied. Many people choose to say nothing at all and may instead quietly take their business elsewhere.
Do you consider a month with reduced customer complaints a success? Like many businesses that rely on customer service satisfaction (CSAT) rate and attempt to make changes to reduce the amount of complaints received, it’s easy to focus on the feedback you’re receiving. The challenge is to uncover what you’re not hearing. Oftentimes, it’s the lack of feedback that will ultimately erode your CSAT rates—not your low complaint numbers.
How Many Unhappy Customers Are Out There?
The BusinessWeek article cited a study that tracked 5,000 financial services customers in seven countries. One-third of those surveyed—31% to be precise—reported that their expectations weren’t met by their financial institution. Thirty-five percent stated that they were dissatisfied, but they never registered a formal complaint or communicated to the institution that they weren’t happy.
If one-third of your customers are dissatisfied with the service you’re providing, how does that work out financially for your business? Let’s say that half of the dissatisfied amount defect and take their business elsewhere—so 15% of your customers could leave and you’ll never have an understanding of why they were upset or what aspect of your customer service program failed to meet their needs. In the study cited, the authors estimated that the “hidden dissatisfied” customers worked out to a $243 million dollar revenue risk for a mid-sized bank. For any company, a 15-35% potential loss due to irritated customers is simply too big to ignore.
You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Know is Broken
When customers don’t communicate with you about their frustrations, you proceed to operate blindly, oblivious that you’re not meeting the expectations of those you’re attempting to serve. The financial services data found that a whopping 65% of those who claimed to be dissatisfied with the service never had their problem resolved. And that, really, is the crux of the issue—if your customers don’t take the effort to voice their frustration, the underlying problems remain intact.
Give a Voice to the Dissatisfied
In order to hear from your dissatisfied—or even mildly irritated customers—you need to make it easy for them to register their complaints. When you’re evaluating the design of your customer experience management system, be sure you make it easy for customers to voice their dissatisfaction. Additionally, consider the following points:
- According to the study, one of the most important factors in determining whether a customer will voice his or her irritation is contingent on institutional attributes, such as easy access to channels that allow feedback, and the willingness of the staff to solicit feedback and provide assistance.
- If customers aren’t registering their complaints, you still need to identify them, which means that you need to look beyond complaint data. Uncover the areas where you can look further—financial institutions can analyze missed SLAs (service level agreements) or you can look at customer behavior patterns and start to identify trends of happy customers versus non-responsive customers.
Prevention is the Key!
Prevention is still the best way to decrease customer complaints. For truly superior customer service, you don’t want to operate a business that is putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. It’s great to design a system that adequately captures customer complaints—and we highly recommend you do so—but ultimately, to generate loyalty, you need to create a business model that fosters happy, pleased customers. Preventing dissatisfied customers is the key and to that end, your customer service training efforts will be one of your best investments.