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“Hug Your Haters” Lesson 1: Answer every complaint, in every channelJune 20th, 2016 by
I recently attended the Connections 2016 conference and got the chance to hear Jay Baer speak. Jay is an expert in customer service and has taught tons of prominent companies how to gain and keep customers by leveraging technology, social media, and customer service.
His talk was powerful and so relevant! Every day, we help builders, remodelers, and contractors understand how to leverage their customer feedback gained through GuildQuality to influence their company’s reputation. The lessons that Jay shared both in his talk and in his book, Hug your Haters, fit right into the idea of using customer feedback to become even better, so I wanted to share these pearls of wisdom with you, too.
This series is broken up into four lessons. This is part one of four. Check back each week for a new lesson!
Lesson 1: Answer every customer complaint, in every channel.
There are so many ways people can express their feelings about your company, you may feel overwhelmed about keeping up with it all. Consider: online reviews, social media, comment cards, telling friends, calling you up directly…and that’s not even an exhaustive list of the ways people can provide feedback.
Ask yourself, and answer honestly: how many complaints do you respond to? Do you tend to ignore one channel over another, returning phone calls, but never responding to online complaints? You would be surprised at the impact answering every single complaint has.
But first, let’s break it down a little bit. You can’t handle all haters the same way. Think about haters falling into two groups: the “Onstage Haters” and the “Offstage Haters”
Onstage Haters complain in public. They want everyone to know about the experience they had. They’re not necessarily expecting a response from you, any may not even want one, they just want to “vent”. Onstage Haters complain on social media, review sites, forums, etc. They tend to be younger, between 18-34, and they’re very comfortable heading to the internet for this type of thing.
Offstage Haters complain in private. This is generally to your face, via phone, over email, or in a survey that you sent them. These folks do want a response. Offstage Haters tend to skew a little older in age.
The biggest difference in these groups is not demographics, but expectation. According to Jay, 90% of Offstage Haters expect and want a response. But only 47% of Onstage Haters expect a reply, so when you do reply to an Onstage Hater, a few things happen:
- It blows the hater’s minds – they were just venting, they didn’t think you were actually listening! Studies show that answering complaints (especially when it’s not expected) can actually turn people from haters into advocates.
- Since the hater complained publicly, your response is most likely also public. Everyone can see how well (or not well) you addressed the issue, and perception of your business and your brand are shaped by observing these dialogues. Hello, marketing.
But there’s also a third group: let’s call them the “Silent but Deadlies”. These are the folks who don’t take to the internet to complain and they don’t tell you directly, they either stew on it, or tell their friends and family what a crappy experience they had, seeding a whole group of what could’ve been future customers as haters. These are problems you could be solving, but you can’t, and probably assume they’re happy customers, because they never speak up.
There is real value to answering every single complaint received either publicly or privately, and proactively reaching out to folks who never say anything at all.
Bottom line: Make sure you’ve got channels available for receiving customer feedback – list your contact info on your website, social media pages, and a establish a proactive customer satisfaction surveying process.
Also, it’s important to develop a culture of accepting feedback with open arms. Committing your customer service team (or you, magical wearer of many hats), to answering every single complaint, and reaching out to ask about an experience, can turn your haters into lovers. And yeah, a some haters might still hate your guts at the end of the day, but think about the revenue potential (repeat and referral business) of those haters who turn into advocates, and of all of those spectators who observe if it’s a public interaction.