Many companies underestimate the true value of customer complaints. Instead of making them go away, companies need to listen to angry customers, engage with them and keep them close.
The cost of unhappy customers can be high—likewise, turning your haters into advocates can have a huge impact on your business. Here are three reasons why you need to start showing some serious love for customers who hate your brand:
- Angry customers can identify opportunities for improvements.
In 2009, fast food company Domino’s Pizza found itself in a social media firestorm when a video surfaced online showing one of its employees contaminating food. Domino’s apologized within 48 hours, but it also took the opportunity to learn from its upset customers.
“Domino’s responded by reaching out to customers and asking for a full and frank assessment of its service and its pizza,” writes the Telegraph’s Rebecca Burn-Callander. “The results were horrendous. Customers told the chain that its pizzas were ‘flavourless’, likening the bases to ‘cardboard.’”
The company took the negative customer feedback and used it to create better food, improving the crust, sauce and cheese in its products. Candid customer feedback also helped shape the company’s new web ordering platform and informed its TV and online advertising campaign.
Early signs show that the efforts are working. “The company’s stock value surged from $7.73 (£5) in 2009 to more than $70 (£44) in 2014,” notes Burn-Callander. “Sales are still growing.”
Angry customers can identify opportunities for business improvements. (CLICK TO TWEET)
- They can help you avoid making bad decisions.
In 2013, whisky brand Makers Mark announced plans to lower the alcohol content of its products. Customers were quick to voice their concerns. While the company pointed out that most drinkers wouldn’t notice the difference in the diluted whiskey, many of its loyal customers disagreed. The company listened.
“Consumers were outraged and the brand quickly responded—showing loyalty and a willingness to listen,” writes Moora Aarons-Mele, an Internet marketer, in a Harvard Business Review article about Maker’s Mark response to the PR fiasco. “Maker’s issued an apology and reversal of the decision; that Facebook announcement received nearly 28,000 likes alone.”
The lesson from Maker’s Mark, according to Aarons-Mele, is that companies need to be ready to turn complaints “into good press and strong marketing opportunities.” If Maker’s Mark wasn’t nimble enough to respond to negative feedback, it would have made a costly mistake and lost loyal customers.
Angry customers can help companies avoid making bad decisions. (CLICK TO TWEET)
- They can result to positive word of mouth.
When Lost Property, a bar in Hollywood, recently received its first one-star Yelp review from an anonymous customer, it did what any business should do: reach out to the customer. But when the bar didn’t hear back, they decided to take the opportunity to do something different instead of letting it pass.
“We tried everything we could to please this anonymous reviewer, but nothing worked,” the company shared on its Facebook page. The company organized an event to “throw a party and let all of our locals benefit” from the negative review. Drinks were just $1 for the party.
“The business embraced their one-star review and took things to a higher positive level,” writes Kathi Kruse, a digital marketing expert, about Lost Property’s approach. “By embracing the reality of a 1-star review, they were able to cleverly fold it into an awesome event filled with lots of people who will write five-star reviews.”
Kruse also notes that a local media outlet ran a story about Lost Property’s approach, creating even more positive word of mouth for the business.
When handled properly, customer complaints can help drive positive word of mouth. (CLICK TO TWEET)
Customers—both happy and angry ones—are a valuable source of insight. Companies that ignore their angry customers risk losing out on valuable information that could propel their business forward. The key is making sure you have a conduit for hearing these complaints and facilitating ongoing engagement, learning and improvement. Doing so demonstrates a degree of authenticity and thoughtfulness that consumers yearn for in an age of mass commerce.
To learn a better approach to handling customer complaints, join Jay Baer, best-selling author and founder of Convince & Convert, and Tyler Douglas, chief marketing officer at Vision Critical, in Hug Your Haters: How to Minimize the Impact of Angry Customers, a live webinar on May 21.