Customer Complaint Management: Are You Prepared to Answer The Call?
As a Canadian franchisee or a prospective one, you know that customers are a significant portion of your bottom line. Poor customer complaint management can sink or swim a franchise business, so here's what you need to know to stay safely above water.
Develop a solid system
Generally speaking, a consumer complaint isn't going to wreck your franchise location, so it can be easy to see complaints as distractions. This happens in a lot of businesses, and companies often approach complaints with frustration or suspicion right off the bat. However, negative customer interactions are inevitable in today's business, and since they can't be avoided, you're better off looking at the ways in which they can benefit your location.
Instead of looking at complaints as nuisances, make sure you develop and implement a system that lets you see what the complaints are, whom they are coming from, and what area of your business is the biggest cause of negative feedback. This enables you to use complaints as an opportunity to improve relationships and goodwill with your customers. You can see what's working in your business and what isn't—it's almost like "free" consumer research.
Having a system in place can also help prevent situations from escalating. Simply put, a customer who has one bad experience at your store and then another when he or she tries to complain is more likely to take the gripe to the internet than someone who receives some sort of resolution. In other cases, a complaint could give you a heads-up on an issue you're unaware of, such as a defective product that is sitting on your shelf.
Make sure you've covered all the bases
While there's no one-size-fit-all approach to how to manage customer feedback, keep in mind that the most effective approach will allow you to access and respond to complaints in a quick, meaningful way. To do this, you usually need good information at intake when the customer is making the complaint, the ability to notice complaint trends, and a front-line staff that is trained to handle and resolve complaints if possible. You should also create a red flag list for complaint elevations so issues that need to go beyond your frontline staff make it to the right person.
By keeping a solid complaint system and good practices, you'll keep your customers returning to your business instead of checking out your competition.