LifeXchange

Too Many Customer Complaints? Focus on Your Company Culture

It’s all about team spirit – Here’s the WHY and what to do if you’ve been getting too many customer complaints recently, PLUS: some science behind building a better reputation today!

Emotional impact. Team spirit. And why you can never separate the two. Have you been receiving too may customer complaints recently? Or maybe it’s been going for a while – corporate “complaints culture” is a very real and common phenomenon in business today.

And what’s to bet you’ve tried everything already: You’ve installed new technology, made good on promises, provided team training, educated customers, rewarded customer feedback – heck, you might even have tried just ignoring the complaints altogether! (Don’t laugh, many companies do just that.)

And, how has it worked for you?

“Handled correctly, every complaint can become extremely profitable.”

Because we’ve dealt with loads of companies operating around the world, some that get lots of complaints and some who hardly get any, and we’ve noticed one thing that a lot of management teams and owners seem to miss: customer complaints often boil down to your company culture. 

And you should actually be grateful for each complaint because it’s valuable business insight. Here’s why:

WHY DO CUSTOMERS COMPLAIN?

When a customer “complains”, they’re simply expressing how dealing your company/employees/service made them feel. That’s it. It’s often a little charged with feelings because it’s an emotional insight – they’re telling you what emotional impact your employees, procedures or strategies have had on them.

And, handled correctly, every complaint can become extremely profitable, because turning a frown around really builds your reputation. Handled badly, it can ruin your brand – bad reviews are just the start.

“Most unhappy customers give up on complaining and just leave – and never come back!”

So, are you really listening to your customers’ feelings (complaints)?

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS?

According to this study of online complaints behaviour, most people complain because they:

  • Are dissatisfied with the product, your company or how they were treated (service)
  • Didn’t enjoy the experience of dealing with your company (shopping experience, late delivery etc.)
  • Feel you’re not handling their complaint correctly.

That last one’s a kicker! In fact, most complaints multiply: The customer is unhappy with something, say the product doesn’t work, but when they complain, the waiting time or queue to be heard is too long. Now you have two complaints. And they can keep adding up.

In fact, many (some say most) unhappy customers give up on complaining and just leave – and never come back!

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OK, SO HOW ARE THESE COMPLAINTS LINKED TO COMPANY CULTURE?

Dissatisfaction with products and services is a quality concern, and it is most definitely cultural. Japanese carmaker Toyota proved that in the 1970s, followed by most of the Japanese car industry throughout the 70s to 90s. See, the Japanese discovered that merely having a quality assurance department is not enough, you need your entire workforce geared and enabled to spot deficiencies and make improvements on the spot. So, instead of having just one QA division, they trained and empowered every part of their operations, from the factory staff (including the janitor) to sales, operations, engineering, purchasing and right through to admin staff to be able to halt operations if they see any defect on a product and assist it be fixed immediately.

See, they changed the culture. From one of hierarchy (“only QAs are allowed to point out defects”) to co-operation (“every one of us can ensure product quality”).

And the results? Well, they’re Toyota.

But that same example pulls through every other type of complaint you might receive. If we are truly a unified team who are dedicated and devoted to driving the company forward, we will, each one of us, know the value and understand and want every single customer to leave here happy and wanting to come back soon.

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WHY? BECAUSE THERE’S A STRONG LINK BETWEEN CULTURE AND SERVICE

So, if your culture is to really make customers happy, managers will run across the office to answer the phone if the receptionist is on break. Juniors will speak out when they see a problem with a product or your branding display etc. (and seniors will allow that and even reward them for it).

Now that’s true team spirit. It’s undeniably all about your company culture. And, done right, your teams will see the benefits in customer complaints. They might even relish them, because each complaint offers a chance to delight a customer and build your brand. It gives insights into how they can help make things better – how you can change your organizational procedures to improve your offering.

THAT MEANS THERE’S A DIRECT LINK BETWEEN CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS AND COMPANY CULTURE

Still not convinced? Ok, consider the definition of company culture: Company culture is “the way we do things around here”. It talks to how you do things. Are you committed to excellent service? Then you have a certain way of doing things. Is everyone just here to collect a paycheque while doing as little as possible? Then you’ll have a different way of doing things.

And the difference is clearly visible. Maybe through how many customer complaints you receive…?

See? It’s 100% about your team spirit. Your company culture.

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SO, HOW DO YOU REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS YOU GET?

Start by working on your company culture. Ask yourself: Are we ALL really on the same page? From the cleaning staff to the finance department to the MD’s PA, are all of us really 100% focused on delivering excellent service/building our brand etc? Or are some of us working in silos – “Yeah, sorry, I only do what’s in my job description”.

“If you’re truly committed to excellent service, your team(s) will have a certain way of doing things. And it will show.”

A lack of team spirit is a behavioural concern. Which impacts your company’s overall performance. And the chances of any amount of training, quality assurance, new technology or extra staff just magically fixing it for you is very close to zero. There is a better way, though. You CAN really change behaviour and impact team spirit with a dedicated and professional project to change and manage your company culture for the better.

NEED HELP?

Good news! We are a change management company, and we specialise in helping companies change their Company Culture. We help companies figure out what’s hindering their growth & performance and then supercharge it with science-based organisational development that actually works.

For real. Have you ever been to a Cape Union Mart store? They have one of the best examples of a stellar service culture in South Africa. And they also happen to be a client of ours. See what one of their Exco said after doing a few sessions with us.

And we WILL SEND a team to your company RIGHT NOW to help you figure out what’s causing your excessive customer complaints – with no obligation from you!

Let’s figure out what’s going on, so we can help energise your people for your exponential growth.


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