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Customer Service is Average Because We Complain Too Much


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Written by: Michael Falcon

Is customer service average in most industries because we, as consumers, complain too much?

For example, take into account your own personal experiences as a consumer. Do you contact a company to acknowledge their great service as quickly as you do when you’ve received bad service?

I recently came across a Venture Beat article that highlighted a couple of interesting customer behaviour statistics:

  • Collectively, we complain about brands an astonishing 879 million times every year on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks
  • 32.8% of complaints are ignored by brands

Have we trained employees to expect complaints and be surprised by praise? If that’s the case, how motivating is that?

It’s human nature for adults, teenagers, and children to want positive reinforcement. Whether it comes from your spouse, family, or friends, it feels good to be told that you are doing well – I believe it motivates you to “double down” on those efforts. 

I think that if we, as consumers, want customer service to improve, then we must make a greater effort to acknowledge great service. We can do this by tweeting the company, calling the employee’s manager, filling out customer surveys, and more.

I’m trying to get better at this practice myself. The other day, the delivery person from a pizza chain in Canada delivered my pie in record time. Not only that, he was extremely polite and did his job very well. I knew that this company never formally asked for feedback, but I could not let this employee’s efforts go unnoticed, so I took the initiative to call the company and express my gratitude. I picked up the phone, asked to speak to the call centre manager, and explained to him why my experience was so positive. I made it very clear that I wished for my feedback to be both recorded within their CRM and sent to the franchisee who employed this employee. To be honest, it felt great doing this and it even hit me with a wave of nostalgia. The nostalgia came from my memories of working within a contact centre and experiencing first-hand what it was like to have customers praise my efforts – it felt good then, and it feels even better now. 

Am I going to change customer service around the world by doing this? Not at all. Regardless, by doing so I may inspire that employee to continue providing great service again and again, which only serves to benefit myself, as the consumer, with a better customer experience.

One thing I work on with companies looking to improve their customer and employee experience is how they handle customer feedback after they have received it. In most cases, companies will buy software, ask for feedback, then cross it off their to-do list. Along with analyzing and taking action on the feedback, you must also ensure that a system is in place to take positive comments and share them across the organization. What’s the point of exhausting your efforts of asking for feedback if you’re going to “let it live in a virtual store unit”? As an employee, receiving recognition for good work can be a great motivator to continue performing at a high level.

I recognize that most brands aren’t very good at responding to complaints. Based on my experience as a consultant, I see that it’s often because we are understaffed and don’t reinforce service-level agreements. I recommend that all complaints should be resolved within one business day. If you don’t have the workforce to handle this, it might be a good indication that you should find the budget to grow your team. After all, customer retention is a central focus within your business, right?

On another note, we complain faster than we congratulate because we have become cynical through being accustomed to receiving poor customer service?

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