Creating an Effective Complaints and Recovery Strategy

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Whenever I log on to any app store, I enjoy reading through the reviews from app users as well as developers’ response to learn about experiences, expectations and

complaints handling. I am more interested in how the app developers manage reviews whether negative or positive, and how it affects their ratings. In my study of businesses, I have observed that best ideas usually come from a level dissatisfaction with existing products or services. While some are prompt to respond and even when they can’t solve the problem immediately, they make a promise of including the observations in the next update, others are never bothered about complaints from users.

Complaints often come from not meeting customer expectations and it represents an opportunity for the company to remedy a problem. It is a good tool used by businesses to improve on their products and services. In most SMEs in Nigeria, I observed that there is hardly any strategy to handle complaints. In fact to some, they believe that ‘when you are done complaining, you keep quiet.’ I know of a particular airline in Nigeria that customers will always complain about their services unfortunately, you will see this ‘I don’t care’ attitude from their employees. Organisations such as that don’t have any clear idea of how to handle their customers’ complaint, and they don’t know the damage caused by customer dissatisfaction to their business. Whenever customers are dissatisfied, there is a crack in the relationship, and that dissatisfaction comes with a cost to the business if not properly handled.

Customer complaint is an important element in business, and smart businesses use it to build relationships with customers as well as create an innovative product. There is no better and cost effective way to improve on your services than paying attention to complaints. Every innovative product is a result of customers’ complaints garnered over time. Customer complaints are not bad for business except when they become too frequent and are not properly handled.

The objective of any business is not just to make customers, but to retain as many of them as possible. Satisfaction plays a crucial role in retaining customers, but it is almost impossible to satisfy all the customers all the time. In fact your most loyal customers will still have complaints; however, the type of strategy adopted in handling those complaints could go a long way in determining how far you can go in recovering from a ‘failed service.’

How you handle complaints (i.e., the recovery) in your business is an indication of your company’s customer orientation, and it affects your relationship with your customers. A business cannot brag about being customer oriented when it handles complaints poorly. Businesses with poor recovery strategy stand a risk of driving their customers into the hands of competitors.

An effective complaints and recovery strategy should be one that attempts to prevent complaints from degenerating to hate. It sets in on time to arrest the situation and it has to be cost effective. If it cost your business so much to recover from a complaint, you have to rethink your strategy. I have observed that the reason most businesses ignore complaints is because of the cost of correcting the problem. Finally, a good complaint handling must be one that leaves the customers better, and above all retains them.

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Ofunre Iriobe

Ofunre Iriobe is a researcher, and facilitator at the Redeemer's University Entrepreneurship Development Centre. He is also a private consultant to young aspiring entrepreneurs.

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