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Title: Absence of customer complaint does not mean customer is happy!
Summary:
In most cases, customer satisfaction is measured based on number of complaints received and how fast these are attended. But what about those that are never reported and hence never attended? This situation is still grim, when customer cannot register a complaint because there is no suitable platform.
Company/Industry Name: Vasudha IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Auother Name: K. W. Kekane

Every good manufacturer has a system to log and monitor all product complaints and ensure that these are speedily attended and subsequently analysed for any improvements.  It is a normal practice to register all incoming customer complaints and attend those at the earliest.  Reports generated for number of complaints received, for different products, from different areas, at different times of the year, with nature of complaints, and how quickly these are attended.  There are reports about nature of faults, with fault analysis, and response time measurement etc.

 

Here, we always miss out a possibility of non-received complaints.  There is no exact channel made available to find out those complaints.  Number of such complaints that are not recorded or not received, or not registered or cannot be registered, may vary from product to product and from industry to industry.  However, ignoring this, and deriving conclusions only from available data may not give correct picture.  It will be incorrect to form a opinion about product performance based on ‘sample data’!

 


This is because absence of customer complaints, does not mean, there are no complaints at all.  Or it does not mean that a customer is happy.  Because complaints are a very significant indicator of customer satisfaction and inaccurate data related to number, type, intensity and urgency of complaints can be critical factors.

 

Why Customers avoid to make Complaints? 

1.       Customer cannot complain, because we never ask.

2.       Company discourages customer complaints.

3.       Proper platform not available to facilitate customer to register a complaint.

4.       There are no resources to receive complaints

5.       Complaint registration process is complicated

6.       Customer complaint mechanism is designed to prove that its customer’s fault.

7.       Customer is unaware of channel for complaining

8.       Process (online form or customer care number) does not clearly define it.

9.       Negative experience of earlier reported complaint

10.   Some customers feel, complaining is causing trouble or botheration

11.   Happy customer does not complain for fear of eroding relations

12.   Product price is not worth spending time in complaining

 

How many complaints are not reported?

 

It’s not very easy to find out exact number of unreported complaints.  The figures would vary depending upon product type, customer strata, culture, country, legal mechanism etc.  However, generally, it is said that over 95% of complaints are never reported and 90% of those customers will simply leave and will never come back.  Now that is a very big number!

 

Effect on Business 


It needs no great wisdom to tell that unhappy customers affect business seriously.  If a happy customer is a good advertisement of company’s product, unhappy customers can spoil your marketing seriously.  Most of them will talk about it to at least 10 other people. Over 13% of unhappy customers will tell at least another 20 people about it!  The results are – create bad reputation of company and brand, erode customer loyalty, drop in business, shifting customers to competition.

 

Can we do something about it?

 

If our business cannot afford ignoring customer complaints, here is a list of actions that we should incorporate in our company to catch nearly all complaints.

 

1.       Set up a very easy, convenient and multiple mechanisms for registering customer complaints. 

‘Feedback’ tab on your website can be converted to ‘Customer Complaints’.  Travelling sales employees can be trained to catch customer complaints.  Service employees, installation team, customer care, can have this as additional task.  In your exhibition booth, you can think of having a customer support desk!

2.       If such a system is already existing, just make it still simpler. 

There is no alternative to it.  Most times, complaints forms are too lengthy and asking too many details.  Most of these can be skipped upfront.  Only those enough for contacting client and enquiring about exact problem can improve complaints inflow significantly. (for example, ‘when purchased’ is essential for us, but most annoying to remember.  We can have other means to find it out, may be by model serial number).

3.       Your complaint mechanism should not attempt to prove that customer made mistakes

We can avoid interrogation about how the problem occurred and what are site conditions.  This anyway, our smart service employee will know in due course.

4.       Attend the complaint first and then call for more details and analysis

It is always a matter of great satisfaction, when a patient is first taken to ICU and medication is started.  The registration formalities can happen alongside.  Do we move only when all data that we require is received from the client?

5.       Must remember that customer complains because he has problem.

Like us, Customers are busy too.  They really have no time to play around and throw complaints on us.  Our policy needs to define that every complaint is a genuine one and needs attention.

6.       Need to play a fair game while attending a complaint.

We do not have to give excuse or invalid reasons to a customer if we are late to attend to him.  Also, it is not good to advise him that he should have chosen a different product, or he now needs to replace this product with a still better one, instead of troubleshooting the faulty product.  Customers are clever enough to understand all this and can think twice before complaining next time (and also while making a next purchase)!

7.       Customer expects solution at his expected time, not at our possible time

How long we can make a customer to wait whose TV is not working and he may miss to watch a World Cup match, or how long we can make someone to wait when internet in his office has a problem and all his 20-25 employees cannot do any work? Can a doctor decide to attend a patient only when he is free from his other priorities?  We can have planning and delivery schedule for sales orders, but there is no place for ‘scheduling’ complaints.

8.       Improve your system for speedy redressal of complaints. 

Entire chain of complaints handling which starts from mechanism to receive a complaint, transferring it to the concerned employee, ensuring that he attends it without delay, and really attending the complaint to resolve it, can have some stumbling blocks that add to delays.  Response time measurement should be for each of these areas rather than only for service employee.

9.       Use Complaints analysis to internal corrective actions.

Analysis of complaints can reveal many surprises.  Not necessarily only product improvements, or quality improvements are always reasons for product problems.  For one consumer products company, just improvising on User Manual reduced complaints by nearly 15%.  Areas like, good marketing documentation to help customer in selecting a correct product, proper advice during sales and installation, and improvements in packaging & transportation, can bring astonishing good results.  Product training programmes, and technical workshops, webinars play a very good role in all these areas.

 

If we record all possible complaints, and ensure to attend those on priority, it will eventually result in reduction of customer complaints.  Because corrective actions taken on the basis of complaints analysis, can eventually bring down number of complaints.  Every good manufacturer naturally expects this to happen.

 



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