Monday, May 22, 2023

Prioritize Private Complainers

All customer complaints deserve your response. Yet researchers at Grenoble École de Management, University College Dublin, and HEC Montréal recommend you reply differently depending on whether the complaint was registered privately—such as by an email or phone call directly to your organization—or publicly—such as via social media, a website, or a blog, where there is a large audience.
     The study results indicate service recovery efforts are substantially more effective in easing negative feelings among private than among public complainers. The researchers relate this to prevailing motivations in the two categories: Private complainers focus on receiving an apology and compensation. Public complainers focus on alerting other consumers to the dangers of copying their transaction. They aim to restore their sense of justice by tarnishing the reputation of the purchased item or the supplier. For public complainers, a recovery from the service shortfall is of less importance.
     An exception to this is if the public complaint fails to receive numerous likes, forwards, replies, or other evidence of widespread attention. You’ll probably become aware of public complaints by monitoring online channels for mentions of your offerings. Along with that, notice available metrics which indicate the popularity of the post.
     Because there might be a broad audience for public complainers, you’ll want to show some attention. But since the benefits to you are likely to be limited, consider restricting this to apologies via public channels and perhaps partial refunds.
     With private complainers, the expense of a more comprehensive response is justified. In addition to the apology and partial or full refund, this could include a promise to avoid the problem in the future and a follow-up contact to check that the customer is satisfied.
     However, never allow the remedies for the private complainer to become extortion. Researchers at North Dakota State University found that complaining customers who make unreasonable demands have a combination of two characteristics: 
  • Throughout the purchase and complaint, they behave as though they suspect the retailer wants to take advantage of them. They’re guarded. They feel justified in shading the truth or stating outright falsehoods. 
  •  They find enjoyment in dominating the retailer. Rather than wanting to achieve a gain without attention to any loss for the retailer, the opportunistic claimants want to be sure the retailer loses so that the complainer’s win is greater by comparison.
     It’s best to break off the relationship with such a complainer.

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