How Do You Respond to Your Customers?

Excellent customer service is important to any organization, private or public sector. Ideally, we would like all of our customer interactions to be positive, but in reality this is not possible.

Dealing with customer complaints adds cost to our work process, yet it is essential to our organizations. How you handle customer issues is key. Research on customer services shows the importance of effective service.

  • Only 4% of customers ever complain. That means you may never hear from 96% of your customers.
  • For every complaint you receive, there are 26 other customers with unresolved complaints or problems, and 6 of those customers have serious problems.
  • Most customers who complain to you will do business with you again if you resolve their complaint. If they feel you acted quickly and to their satisfaction, up to 95% of them will do business with you again, and they probably will refer other people to you.
  • A dissatisfied customer will tell up to 10 people about it. Approxi­mately 13% of those will tell up to 20 people about their problem. You most likely cannot afford the advertising to overcome this negative word of mouth
  • 28% of customers who experience a problem when dealing with a public sector organization don’t report it as a complaint, mostly because they feel it wouldn’t make any difference.

What brought this to mind was a television show I saw this week. Say It To My Face deals with restaurants that have received negative on-line reviews. Many have also seen declines in business prior to the show. In the episodes I have seen, the initial response from the owners has been:

  • I know more about running restaurants than you.
  • Your complaints about the food are wrong.
  • You should not be complaining because it will hurt our business.
  • If you don’t like it, don’t come back

The owners then stubbornly refuse to make changes in any aspect of the restaurant, even walking out rather than listen to advice from the hosts of the show.

Does any of this sound like the way your organization handles customer complains?

Correcting problems that lead to customer complaints can be difficult. It requires careful analysis to determine the root causes of the problems and make necessary systemic changes.

Do your organization share customer feedback with the workers? Employee involvement is essential to the success of the corrective process. Employee knowledge and expertise are assets to resolving problems, but only if they know the nature of complaints before it is too late to deal with them.

Some organizations involve customers in the review and problem solving process. Some find this to be threatening, but customer input be valuable in the process, as long as you do not handle it like the restaurant owners in the television show.

We all know the importance of effective customer service, although we may not always practice it. We need to carefully listen to our customers, even if we do not like what we hear. Employee engagement offers the best opportunity to identify and correct customer service issues, especially if clients are included in the process.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
This entry was posted in Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Employee Involvement, Managing Change, Problem Solving, Teamwork and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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