What's beefing you?

How to make customers complain more (and why you should) ...

My 13 year old daughter recently asked me “What’s beefing you?” as she overheard me talking to a friend about my experience with one of the new challenger banks. I found this odd seeing as she is vegetarian but I had an inkling she meant “why are you complaining” and I said, “I’m not complaining, just having a chat, now run along”.

It made me stop to consider – why hadn’t I complained direct to the bank? I guess it was because I didn’t have an easy conduit to make a complaint and felt no-one would listen anyhow.  

A few days later, I stumbled across a study by First Financial Training which confirmed that 96% of banks’ defecting customers leave without complaining and 91% of those will never come back. With the cost of acquisition running at 6-8 x the cost of retaining a customer, perhaps it’s time to ask them what really gets their “beef”.

It was found that 68% of customers who left a bank did so because of poor customer service. The shock-horror for challenger banks is that this is not restricted to traditional banks – yes, challenger banks get it wrong too.

Challenger banks are often heralded as being in hyper-growth mode with the focus on the ease of doing business, the number of banking app features, the simplicity of on-boarding, reduced services charges etc. But is their success down to the traditional banks not listening to customers? And how long before the new banks forget what made them attractive in the first place?

With 20 years of analysing customer feedback experience under his belt, I asked our CEO, Piers Alington, why customers don't complain more and the answer was very insightful:

“It’s because they are scared of the answer. You see, if organisations ask how likely customers are to recommend them, what would they change about the service, or how would they rate the service, they are not encouraging customers to complain and that’s good for the ego. I call this approach “tick-box” of customer.”

I see.

“But if organisations ask what frustrates customers most about their service, what do they wish they didn’t do or could have done better, or what does their favourite supplier do that they don’t do, then they'll get answers they might not like. But at least they'll now know what to change in order to keep hold of their customers.”

So, companies don’t ask because they don’t like the answers?

“That’s part of the story. Perhaps it doesn’t look good to present negative feedback to the Board. Perhaps there’s an investment going into surveys that give the right answers, even though it is a fallacy to only hear such feedback. The real reason is because there is too much data that comes back by asking more open ended questions and they don’t know how to make sense of it.”

And then it clicked.

Text analytics enables banks to focus on customer experience improvements that feed into product development, process enhancement, customer journey and ultimately to the brand reputation and loyalty attributed to the company name.

In fact, these improvements ultimately feed through to the customer numbers, revenues, profitability and sustainability of the business.

Every business demands a customer experience programme that props up all the wonderful growth that has happened. That’s why it’s good to ask customers to complain more.

Got it.

By Ian Dean, Sales Manager