Loving customers who complain the most
In my early days as a young account executive at an agency, a mentor taught me to value clients he called "screamers." Loudly voiced objections demanded a response, he said, and if done properly would lead to a stronger relationship. The big concern, he added, are quiet clients who one day announce they are going with another firm without explaining why. The same lesson applies to retailers, and new consumer research reinforces the point.
According to a March 2015 study conducted by LoyaltyOne and Verde Group with Dr. Deborah Small, professor of marketing and psychology at the Wharton School, nearly half of consumers reported having a problem on their last shopping trip. Eighty-one percent made the decision not to bring the problem to the attention of the merchant and roughly one-third of those said they were unlikely to recommend the retailer to family and friends.
The study also found that customers who brought problems to the attention of retailers and had them resolved were 84 percent less likely to reduce the amount they spent with the merchant.
Interestingly, the survey found that the biggest spenders in given retail businesses were the ones most likely to experience problems. Big spenders at mass merchandisers were 23 percent more likely to be upset by the amount of time spent on checkout lines. The chief complaint among important department store shoppers is getting the "it’s not my department" brush-off from sales associates.
The findings of LoyaltyOne and Verde Group research point to the need for retailers to develop the type of relationships with consumers in which they make merchants aware of ongoing problems. The billion dollar plus question is just how they go about doing that.
What do retailers need to do differently to get customers to speak up and let them know about problems they experience during their shopping trips? Which retailers in your experience seem most interested in hearing complaints from customers?