Once in my lifetime, I do have the opportunity working as a Restaurant Manager for almost ten years in one of the leading fast food chain here in our native land. It was a wonderful experience specially the training on how to handle customer complaints. I was trained to delight the customers all of the times, providing them with the best quality food, excellent service and cleanliness because without those customers, business will not grow-small profit-company’s bankruptcy- leading that in eventually loosing my job in the process. So the Management values the customers so much, treating them as ‘king.’
However, since complaints were inevitable, we should welcome complaints and make it easy for customers to provide feedback. After all, customers who take the time to complain still have some confidence in the organization. Although they may be complaining, at least they are still talking to you. Those who complain are exhibiting a degree of loyalty and a genuine desire to get their problem fixed.
Furthermore, of those who do complain, 56 to 70 per cent will do business with your company again if the complaint is resolved. That goes up to 96 per cent if the complaint is resolved quickly!
Research also shows that customers who have never had a problem with a company are less loyal than those who have had problems successfully resolved. So unhappy customers who complain and have their problems resolved may become your best customers. They are more likely to tell others how pleased they are that their complaint was addressed. And, if the problem is resolved satisfactorily, they will tell even more people about it than if they had received good service in the first place!
Complaining used to be a private matter. Not anymore. Today’s irate customers may very well broadcast their concerns over the Internet, informing millions of people.
Companies looking to improve service recovery need to start by changing their attitudes. Customer gripes must be viewed as valuable feedback. Complaints are one of the most available, yet underutilized, sources of marketing information.
You can’t stop customers from defecting if you never hear about their problems. Giving customers a way to complain can represent a golden opportunity. Listening and responding appropriately minimizes the damage unhappy customers can create for your business. The average upset customer tells nine people. One in five tells more than 20 people.
How often have you been disappointed with a product or service and complained about it? TARP (Technical Assistance Research Programs), a U.S. group which focuses on complaining customers, found that 26 out of 27 people who experience problems do not complain.
Companies that mistakenly interpret silent customers as satisfied customers are in for a rude awakening. TARP Studies show that only 4% of customers complain. Most just go away angry and simply stop doing business with you.
British Airways is a notable example of an organization that has encouraged customer feedback. By installing video booths at Heathrow Airport, it gave angry customers an easy way to sound off. The taped complaints were sent to top management, giving them an unfiltered glimpse into passenger frustration. Their focus on responding to customer complaints paid off. It shed its “bloody awful” image and has become known as one of the best airlines in the world.
Service recovery does not happen automatically. Companies need to establish procedures and train staff so that everyone in the organization knows how to handle complaints. Here are some suggestions that may help your company recover from situations where customer expectations have not been met.
- Thank customers for taking the time to complain. Explain that you appreciate hearing from them because it gives you the opportunity to take corrective action.
- Take time to hear out customers, giving them a chance to vent. You need to ensure you understand all their concerns. Show empathy. Never minimize the situation, as this will only make customers even more enraged.
- It is important to apologize to customers, but wait until you understand their concerns first. Otherwise your apology may sound hollow.
- Ask customers what they would like you to do. They will usually want less than you think. It is estimated that fewer than two per cent of customers will systematically try to cheat you. Even if you do meet with a dishonest customer, the goodwill you build fixing the problem is probably worth more than the cost of a replacement product or the value of the service.
- Take responsibility for solving the problem. Don’t pass the complaint off to another department to handle. The customer brought the complaint to you. Stay in the loop until it is resolved.
- Effectively overcome the problem.
- Follow up to ensure customers are satisfied. If you ask customers directly if they are happy with your solution, chances are they will buy from you again. If appropriate, you might thank them again for bringing the matter to your attention and let them know how your organization will try to prevent future occurrences.
-Shirley Lichti for The Record, January 13, 1999
What is my point here?
What is true to service-oriented business applies also in running community specially, in Organizing Racing Events.
When they’re receiving enormous feedbacks, my tips for the Organizer is to follow the British Airways Simple Rules in Handling Complaints, just omit ‘customers’ and replace it with the word ‘runner.’
And in response to some blogs,..I’m not riding in this issue! It so happened that my group and I also joined some of those races, I’m only speaking based on our experiences.
As your customer, I do have the right to give feedback and raise my concerns, be it good or bad. I maybe critical at times, but rest assured that I’ll do it constructively.
Let’s build bridges rather than walls!
Remember, runners who take time to complain want to make things better.
Are you listening?
LIFE IN A NUTSHELL: If I could wrap all my father’s counsel into one sentence, it would be ‘Get with it, son.’ -Lorne Sanny of the Navigators