If you want to reduce complaints and improve customer satisfaction just change the way you’re communicating with them.

If you want to reduce complaints, improve the way you communicate with your customers

Want fewer complaints? Change how you communicate – at every stage of the process.

Businesses are starting to realise how they communicate with complaining customers has a huge impact on escalations and single resolution.

It sounds obvious, but they way you communicate with customers before – and through – the complaint process will directly impact how they react.  You already know how willing customers are to complain – and how new channels have given them a louder, more urgent voice that’s hard to ignore.

We’ve found that by communicating differently with customers you can reduce the impact of complaints massively – internally and reputationally across social media channels.

Customer complaints are avoidable noise – and better communication turns it down

Complaints often get treated an inevitable part of customer management.  You’ll always get some, but so often they come from a misalignment of expectation and delivery.  People expect one thing and get another.  This is where communication is key.

We’ve seen big decreases in escalations and increases in first contact resolution just by bringing clarity to key customer communications and building simpler processes.  Thing is, everyone thinks they’re being clear and simple, but it often takes someone from outside the organisation to spot the wrinkles.

Equally, complaint hot-spots often get treated as a process issue. “If we streamline process “a” and integrate it with process “b” we’ll reduce costs and improve experience”. This internal focus often ignores the emotional customer context behind why customers complain in the first place.

Ignore how customers are feeling during the process and you miss a vital part of the equation. We make it a rule never to design a new process for a client without linking it to the corresponding customer journey we’ve mapped – and visa versa. That way, internal improvements are always linked to an improvement to a customer touchpoint, and visa versa.

Complaints are a major cost centre, and most businesses don’t realise it

Without a solid financial basis,  better, more effective customer communication is a “nice to have”.  But we’re seeing case after case proving that how you communicate with customers hitting the bottom line.  The cost of churn, reputation, complaint management, queries, misunderstandings, difficult, over-long customer journeys…

Understanding the true cost of complaints, not just the immediate cost of a contact centre, is vital in building a better picture of the true cost complaints are having on your business.

For example, we worked with a national distribution firm to understand the cost of complaints to their bottom line.  They’d never measured the whole costs before.  So we looked at the time impact of complaints on the customer service team, the level of escalations, the churn, the senior management time and the reputational damage.  The final costs came in at just short of £3m.  A year.

Do your customer care teams have the skills they need to deliver?

Everyone believes they can communicate.  But, from the work we’ve done, good old-fashioned literacy gets mistaken for the complex task of communicating.  Nearly every customer-facing person we’ve met has been perfectly literate.  But some miss out on areas like tone of voice, emotion, understanding the customer’s perspective and pressures, the difference between telling and asking and seeing things through the customer’s eyes.

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More and more customer support teams are realising that they need to have better skills to deal with complaints effectively.  After all, without the confidence to write an effective customer email, resolve a difficult customer complaint on live chat or de-escalate a complaint on the phone – your teams are going to struggle.

Simplify things for customers (and make them customer-centric)

There is one thing you can do, right now, to reduce customer complaints.

Make things simpler for customers.

All too often an internal perspective leads to complexity in the way businesses communicate with customers.  Overly long contracts, complicated returns procedures, difficult-to-understand bills. These are just some of the touchpoints we’ve seen recently which have driven an increase in customer complaints. And every single one of them was improved through a customer-centric approach to creating better communication.

Making things clearer for customers saves money. Not just in complaints, but queries and customer responses too. A customer-centric approach to clear communication will change how complaints impacts your business.

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