by Peter Cheng

“Complaint” seems to be a terrible word in the context of service. But an organisation that embraces complaints in a positive light will begin to appreciate them for what they truly are—a pot of gold!

What is a complaint? Taken negatively, complaints are simply expressions of dissatisfaction. Seen positively, complaints are feedback that is as scarce as gold, voices coming from genuine customers who care for the improvement of a service provider.

The truth is, 90% of dissatisfied customers do not complain. The reason is that complaining takes a lot of time, energy and effort. Most dissatisfied customers will simply switch to other brands or service providers, which is a much easier action than calling in, writing emails or filling in feedback forms to lodge a complaint.

Feedback constitutes identification of the service gaps that customers hope to see fixed. Feedback can also include affirmations for organisations that have done well. Be it positive or negative feedback, organisations that pursue Real Service see feedback as gold, and hence treasure it.

But organisations today are faced with the challenge of engaging the 90% of dissatisfied customers who do not naturally give feedback, which is essentially a free lesson from customers for an organisation. Seeing feedback as a positive step to help an organisation improve brings us to the question,“So how do we get customers to provide their feedback?”

When was the last time you received feedback from your customers? How did you handle it? Did you treat it seriously, examine the causes and take remedial actions? Or did you cast it aside and say, “Well this is just a fussy lot of customers whom we can ignore”? Real Service organisations know how to engage customers to give feedback, so that they can continue on their path of service excellence.

What are some other reasons why customers do not complain? Perhaps they do not know how. Or they do not feel that it is worth the time and hassle; perhaps they have given feedback in the past that has fallen on deaf ears. Or maybe they feel that feedback seems to be futile, since organisations do not even bother taking remedial action. Or perhaps, by the time they have cooled down from their anger and dissatisfaction, they have decided to drop the matter altogether.

Some may find that no one seems to be interested in their feedback or believe them. Some might lack communication skills, while others fear being victimised and embarrassed. And the reasons go on and on. Whatever they are, organisations that do not receive feedback miss out on great opportunities for free lessons from customers, and they ultimately lose out on these opportunities for improvement.

To find out how Real Service providers can embrace complaints in a positive light, order your copy of Real Service at www.pace-od.com/real-service.

Real Service, authored by Dr. Peter Cheng, is a comprehensive and practical guide to the various behaviours at an individual, team and organisational level that impact the quality of service, angled from the holistic point of view of organisation development. The book is available for sale via this webpage and will also be in all major bookstores by mid August.

Real Service retails for SGD $28. Price excludes postage.