Do you want the customer who bitches loudest?

25 Oct

Barking dog by Chadlonius

Customers have always complained to get what they want, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Now there’s this study released today from UBC’s Sauder School of Business, which suggests further method to consumers’ madness.

In a nutshell, your customer will complain even more loudly when they’re at fault!

This will be especially true in areas of technology, where the customer will often pretend to understand the problem when they have absolutely no clue what’s going on. We can imagine where that will lead as staff try to explain the issue technically.

That’s fantastic learning.

A smartly trained customer-care rep should be able to identify that moment when the customer is amping up. According to the Sauder study, that could be a signal that the customer either feels his or her intelligence is being questioned, or they realize they’ve screwed up.

How important is this customer to you?

If you answered VERY, congratulations. Every customer is important, none more than an existing one. Those who bitch the loudest are especially valuable, because they are often ready to take their dissatisfaction to social media channels and their own traditional networks. Or just sit at home stewing and plotting.

So how do you turn this potential brand antagonist into a brand advocate?

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

* Your business might have strict rules and processes around handling customer complaints, but empower your staff to throw the book out the window and use their discretion and common sense when dealing with a whirling dervish. Island Savings, for example, does this. You’ll have to hire better of course, not a bad break.

* It gets messy when the shit hits the fan. Encourage staff to listen, but then quickly address the problem with a solution. Nip that rising barometer of customer angst in the bud. Don’t fight.

* Conduct a staff-training workshop specifically around the squeaky wheel. Call it: Methinks he doth protest too much. Be sure your staff know how to identify the triggers and what the immediate responses should be.

As the Sauder study points out, the customer is not always right. But let them be wrong with dignity! They’ll stay if you do.

(Angry dog illustration by this cool guy > Chadlonius)

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7 Responses to “Do you want the customer who bitches loudest?”

  1. TV Amanda October 25, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Wrong with dignity. Yes. I think we all would like the opportunity, when we are wrong, to be wrong with dignity. Then we can take responsibility and feel good about it.

    • Doug Brown October 25, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      The best companies are the ones that think like customers. We can all relate to losing it when we are in over our heads. I like this empathetic approach too. Thanks Amanda!

  2. hotelgoddess October 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    my experiences have been exactly this according to the Sauder study.

    • Doug Brown October 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

      I’m going to take that to mean on the company’s side of the customer service table Angela! 😉

  3. chadlonius October 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Very interesting article and awesome graphic 😉 Thanks for sharing.

    • Doug Brown October 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      It IS awesome. So’s your name!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Do you want the customer who bitches loudest? | Social Media for Non-Profits | Scoop.it - October 26, 2012

    […] Customers have always complained to get what they want, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.   Now there’s this study released today from UBC’s Sauder School of Business, which suggests further method to consumers’ madness.   In a nutshell, your customer will complain even more loudly when they’re at fault!  […]

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