Turn Complaints into Praise

© by marada

During the different stages of your product launch, you may end up ticking off a lot of users in the process.  Initially there may be complaints about missing features or features not working as advertised.  Later, you may experience growing pains with site crashes or not being able to service your users promptly.  How do you deal with users who complain, and turn them into your most loyal users?

  1. Put things into context.  Each user who complains, represents several others who were equally ticked off, but chose not to take the time to tell you.  By resolving the issue and improving your service, you are appeasing several other users you haven’t heard from.
  2. Respond quickly.  Most companies and businesses out there take very long to respond to user complaints.  I’ve left customer service messages using forms at the sites of several major corporations and have been ignored many times.  At the moment, I’m dealing with a refund issue with another corporation that has taken months to process.  Responding quickly will immediately make you stand out from the crowd.
  3. Listen and acknowledge the issue.  This is especially important with phone or face to face conversations.  Let the user do most of the talking.  In most cases they are just happy to have someone hear them out, especially for situations that they realize are out of your control.  They will be much more accommodating if this step is done well.
  4. Resolve the issue.  If the user deserves compensation, and a solution isn’t obvious, be up front and ask them what would make them happy.  In most cases, you will be surprised and how little it would take to appease them.  In the odd case that a solution will cost more than you are willing to pay, appraise the potential benefit of the user returning for return business, and recommending your business to others, versus the cost of the user not returning and worse – spreading a negative review of your business to others.
  5. Follow up.  Depending on the nature of the issue, follow up after a few days to make sure that the customer is indeed happy with the new resolution, and no further issues have come up.  This is the type of service that makes you stand out from the competition, and can even earn you praise for your effective resolution.
  6. Continue engagement.  Even after the situation has been resolved, continue engaging with the user on other aspects of your business.  Find out what parts they like, and what parts they think can be improved.  I’ve found many situations where customers who complained ended up becoming some of my most loyal supporters after that.  They have seen first hand that you care about their business, and are willing to return the favor by helping you succeed after that.

“Man did they screw up.  But boy did they make up for it.”

As long as your company is growing, there will be users contacting you with various issues.  Consider this a good thing.  In fact, if you are not hearing from your users through comments or emails, then perhaps this is a sign that your business has started to peak or is stagnating.

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