Have you ever received a “customer service” phone call following an appointment with a service provider? I have; and I could tell by the caller’s tone that they were working a list—calling because they had to. They didn’t really want to hear what I had to say.

I know this because both times I received calls, I had medical conditions that needed attention. One time, I was told to call back and make an appointment. The other time, I was told it was probably nothing to worry about and to wait a few days. (It was something to worry about.)

So what’s the point of the follow up call, if you’re not prepared to do anything?

I guess you could not bother calling at all; but these statistics suggest that’s not a good idea:

  • 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain; however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back. – 1st Financial Training Services
  • A dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – White House Office of Consumer Affairs
  • Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell 4-6 people about their experience. – White House Office of Consumer Affairs
  • 94% of customers do not want to be transferred to another representative more than once. – Mobius Poll 2002
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. – “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

You need a plan for handling complaints.

If you make follow-up calls or suggest customers call you with questions or concerns, you need a plan to address those issues or concerns. Some options are:

  • Appoint a dedicated customer service representative who is responsible for working with the appropriate department or manager to act on the problem.
  • Immediately forward customers who have issues to the appropriate manager with the authority and means to address the concern.
  • Establish standard remedies for specific issues that the person calling customers can address on the spot.
  • Empower the person calling to deal with issues and make judgments about appropriate remedies.

Look at it this way. Every complaint is an opportunity to make a customer for life—if handled properly. And it’s an opportunity to improve the way you do business—especially if you continue to hear the same complaints.

Do you really know what your customers think?

If not, maybe it’s time you asked! Make follow up calls; then act on the feedback. Periodically survey your customers. Or provide customers an easy and convenient way to give you feedback—a phone number to call or text, a website or an email to log complaints.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth method of soliciting customer feedback, host a customer focus group or form a customer advisory council. I recently conducted three focus groups for two different clients who wanted candid feedback about their business. Both were well attended and we gained a wealth of information that will greatly affect how each company conducts business in the future.

If you’d like to learn what your customer are thinking, call me at 217-721-1679 or email Katrina@KatrinaOlson.com. I’d love to help you find out!

Katrina Olson is an award-winning advertising copywriter and creative director, marketing and public relations consultant, freelance writer, content developer, trainer/coach, former college professor, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She can be reached at katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.