by Dera DeRoche-Jolet
It might seem strange for me to say this but complaining customers are
good for your business.
It's basic human nature to want to avoid unpleasant experiences. Nobody
likes bad news. But uncovering customer complaints and making them right
can give you an effective competitive advantage.
Think back to some of your previous experiences. Most customers don’t
take the time to complain - at least not to you. They’ll just quietly
switch to another alarm company.
So it’s to your advantage to listen to what your customers are complaining
about. That’s because dissatisfied customers or clients can do one
of four things:
1. They can remain silent
2. They can complain to a legal or public agency
3. They can complain to friends, family and others
4. They can complain to you
Which choice would you like them to make?
You certainly don't want them to complain to a legal or public agency.
And you definitely don't want them to complain to their friends and associates.
Can you imagine how much business that can cost you?
At first, you might just want them to remain silent. But it's not the
best choice for two reasons. First, because they really won’t remain
silent. It's human nature for people to talk about their experiences -
especially bad experiences involving unsatisfactory business sale. A more
productive reason you don't want a dissatisfied customer to remain silent
is because it takes away the chance for you to fix the problem and salvage
your relationship with your customer.
That’s why the best choice is to have your unhappy customer complain
Customers and even potential ones who take the time and trouble to complain
to you are really helping you grow your business. They're giving you the
opportunity to resolve their problems and keep them as a customer. They're
also alerting you to a problem that you’re not aware of. And that
may be costing you business from other prospects and customers.
If the problem is your responsibility you can correct it. If the problem
is with a product your company uses or something the company has done
or even failed to do, you can let them know about it and ask them to correct
it. You can tell your service people, sales force and installers about
it and let them know the company is taking corrective action.
In fact, it’s a good idea to encourage customer complaints. If customers
complain, you’ll be able to know right away the magnitude of the
problem and you’ll be able to respond quickly to minimize the damage.
How much longer would it take you to discover a problem if a customer
One way to encourage customer complaints and feedback is advertising a
toll-free line or a special extension. Here are three other ways especially
suited to alarm companies.
* Develop a customer satisfaction and comments form. Include it with the
literature you provide after an installation or send it as a separate
* Telephone them a few days after completing an installation and ask if
they are satisfied, if they understand the system and if everything is
* Send a follow up postcard to customers a week or 10 days after completing
a installation and ask for their comments.
* Create a separate page at your web site for customer comments and complaints.
Publicize the address on your home page and on direct mail, newsletters
and any other communications with your customers.
Believe it or not, your customers know your strengths and weaknesses better
than you do. Get them to identify your weaknesses and to tell you what
they are so you can correct them. You’ll probably hate it at first.
It will probably be uncomfortable and even ego deflating to hear about
your company’s weaknesses. But once you take corrective action and
see the positive impact it has, you won’t be complaining about your
customers complaining again.