Complainers Are Our Best Friends

We love to hear from you

The last thing most businesses want to deal with is a complaining customer. They come up with endless excuses to blame the problem on someone else and will take days to return your phone calls, if at all. Sometimes they even make you feel guilty, as if you did something wrong. (“Are you sure you didn’t turn that valve handle?”) I’m sure almost all of you reading this have dealt with a company like that at some point.

Our company takes pride in minimizing mistakes and misunderstandings. Our track record for customer satisfaction is second to none. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. One reason so many customers love us is because we’re willing to admit when we make mistakes and correct them, no matter what the cost to us.

Yes, we make mistakes. We think we make fewer than most plumbing companies, but we’re only human. It would be an insult to your intelligence to pretend that every job our technicians perform goes exactly the way it should, or that everyone in the office responds the way they should. What makes us different than most companies is that when these glitches occur we won’t attempt to duck responsibility.

In fact, we WELCOME complaints. We WANT to hear from you if you are dissatisfied with our service in any way. That’s why our customer service people call you after a job is complete to make sure you are satisfied – or, if you’re not, to see how we can make things right. We do this for two reasons. One is the Golden Rule. We want to treat you the way we like to be treated by the suppliers we buy our goods and services from.

The second reason is that it’s good business to listen to complainers. Business researchers have found that only 4% of customers with a grievance will bother to raise it with company personnel. This means that for every complaint made to our company, we can assume there are many other silent, dissatisfied customers.

We cherish those 4% who bother to complain. Their complaints serve the same purpose as a baby’s cry, alerting us that something is wrong. That gives us a chance to fix the problem.

Not all complaints are our fault. Sometimes they result from misunderstandings rather than mistakes on our part. Nonetheless, we also learn from these complaints. The complainers let us know that we are not communicating as well as we should, and that’s something we will strive to do better.

We’re also aware of studies showing that when someone makes a complaint and receives a satisfactory response, 70% become that company’s most loyal customers. Just as reformed sinners become the most avid churchgoers, so it is with customers who get turned around. A mistake is an opportunity to solidify business relationships and establish long-term bonds. It enables us to talk to you at length as we investigate the complaint. This helps us get to know you and vice versa, to connect with you not just as a customer, but as a friend. That’s why we’ve learned to love people who complain, even though they may be angry and their message painful to us.

The 96% who suffer in silence are the ones we have to worry about. Next time they have a plumbing problem, they will simply call a competitor and we will lose their business forever. Even worse, they will tell friends and neighbors that we did something wrong without giving us a chance to make amends.

So, please, if you are ever dissatisfied with our performance in any way, let us know. I promise you a fair hearing and we will do everything we can to satisfy you in hope of turning you into one of our most loyal customers.

 

 

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