Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Dealing with customer complaints in 2019

Mark Fletcher
March 6th, 2019 · 1 Comment

Today, shoppers have multiple ways they can complain about a product, a service or an experience with a retail business. Whereas in the past it could have been by phone or in person, today, they can call, email, Facebook message you, Twitter DM you, review you on Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp and more … they can complain in places away from you too in social media groups – the new form of word of mouth. This lis is not complete.

My point is that complaining is easier. While this facilitates fake complaints from people with a legitimate or illegitimate grudge (see some comments here) or .com a competitor.

Since complaining is easier, the responding is harder. How, when and where we respond is critical. 

In the response is not what a complainer wants but is truthful, they may avert it or say you are a bully or say you are lying or have some other attack. So, you need to be aware of this as you prepare your response.

To be on top of this challenge you need a consistent process, a structured process … to ensure you respond to every complaint. Your responses need to be truthful. They need to be human, in the voice that fits with your business and the customers you aspire to reach. I say this because your response is not only to the person complaining but all in your community.

Today, wha this means, is being on the platforms used by you customers and being responsive on these. This is a tough challenge for small business retail. There are outsource businesses that will do this for you. However, in our channel I don’t see it as an opportunity.

But no matter how good your processes, how accessible you are and how truthful your position, sometimes, you need to give a complainer what they want even if they are wrong because the cost of not doing that is greater than the cost of being right. I say this because today’s megaphone world of social media is easily leveraged by those few out there who know they can get stuff and benefits by being critical at volume. And this is the biggest challenge in this area of customer complaints today.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Leon Tonna // Mar 7, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    I wouldn’t respond via social media because whether you are right or wrong, you are totally in a position of weakness and they know it.

    Respond directly – phone, email, private chat – whatever.

    A complaint on social media will be quickly forgotten, a response could turn rapidly into a flame war. You won’t win.

    Small upside verses big downside. It’s just a numbers game.

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