Closing the loop with your customers is critical

Fast and instant communication is part of our everyday life these days. Texts, emails, social media – no longer do we wait days for a response, we expect it within hours. And so organisations too must respond quickly to customers who complain because if they don’t, they can expect to see it splashed all over Facebook or Twitter.

So what do we do about this?

The first step is to ensure you are proactive about asking for feedback and have a robust channel through which your customers can comment or complain. Whether it’s a post purchase feedback form via email or SMS, or a feedback button on your website, make sure customers are given the opportunity to vent any frustrations direct to you before resorting to social media.

The second – and arguably most important – step is to ensure you have an effective process for ‘closing the loop’ with customers. This means ensuring that someone reads the complaints soon after you receive it (ideally within minutes), and that a front line member of staff has the authority to contact the respective customer immediately. If the complaint cannot be resolved immediately, at the very least your designated member of staff should be giving the customer a chance to vent their frustrations and empathizing with them. Once the customer feels listened to, he is less prone to an outburst on social media.

Finally, whatever the nature of the complaint, the loop with the customer must be closed. This means investigating the cause for the complaint, taking any necessary action to rectify the matter and then contacting the customer again to let him know of the outcome.

All this may sound like hard work but it doesn’t have to be. There are customer feedback platforms such as Feedback Ferret that enable you to ask your customers for feedback, see at a glance what customers are saying in real time, and then act on that feedback. Alerts can be sent out to front line staff and unhappy customers can be contacted to ensure a quick resolution of any issue.

You would be surprised how delighted unhappy customers can be when they actually receive a response to a complaint. Too many organisations take too long to respond or simply ignore them totally. In today’s era of instant communications, there is no excuse for companies not to respond immediately. The technology is available – it just needs to be harnessed. Prompt complaint resolution not only keeps corporate reputations intact, it can win back unhappy customers into the fold.