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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Silence of Dissatisfied Customers...A Quiet Begging to Be Heard
We’d like to think more data would be making us all more successful marketers.  But, to paraphrase Einstein, our undoing may be repeating the same mistakes but hoping for better outcomes.  Esteban Kolsky, CEO of thinkJar, just a few months ago shared some new statistics reinforcing data reminiscent of the TARP Complaining Behavior studies conducted over two decades ago.  The new data reminds us how invisible customer suffering can be to most marketing organizations.  Consider that Kolsky found:
  • Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers actually launch a complaint.
  • 91% of those unhappy non-complaining customers simply leave the brand.
We've repeatedly referred to this as the 'complaint iceberg' - to emphasize the small proportion of voiced complaints.  These reported findings are very similar to numbers we have been seeing for decades.  So our conclusion remains the same:  Customer indifference or inactivity can be seductively placating.  We must be ever alert so as not to interpret the absence of negative feedback as a sign of satisfaction.
We’re not making the kind of progress we wish we were because we’re still not getting customers actively talking to us -- or we're not listening well enough. Perhaps it’s the company-centric approach that dominates so many businesses; measuring results, benefits and customer values against internally established benchmarks and standards.  The few customers who do manage to 'break through' are only those few who scream loudest online.

So, Yes, You Need More Complaints
As practitioners who have encouraged the measurement of customer satisfaction for decades, we’re not recommending abandoning that discipline.  But, we strongly believe that no matter how complex and painful it is that our outreach needs to be intensified:
  1. Customers must be aided and encouraged to bring their failed experiences to the attention of a brand.
  2. Better communication channels must be established to capture customers' feelings and comments.
  3. Complaints need to be welcomed by management and treated as 'opportunities'.
  4. Processes should be created to encourage employees to communicate what they are hearing from customers to management.  (Employees need to be rewarded, not punished, when they communicate 'bad news'.)
  5. While monitoring social media is important it shouldn’t be construed as representative of one's customers' points of view.   Even in 2016 most word of mouth still takes place by phone, private email, text messaging, and face-to-face conversations.
And You Still Can't Manage What You Don't Measure; Not Even in 2016
We have also long spoken about managing expectations.  And the better we become at capturing and quantifying customer complaints, the better we will be able to know what customers are expecting of our brands.  So it all comes down to encouraging a better dialogue...turning the volume up on the current murmur of dissatisfaction.

8:02 pm est          Comments

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