Only a fraction of dissatisfied customers complain. A low number of complaints does not represent a realistic picture of the extent of customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, it is not rational to pursue a minimization of the incoming complaints, but to minimize the customers’ annoyance. However, this is only possible if a company knows the underlying problems and is given the chance to restore customer satisfaction. To this end it is necessary that the greatest possible percentage of dissatisfied customers articulate a complaint. In this sense, the maxim of ‘complaint maximizing’ should be understood and complaint stimulation becomes an essential element of complaint management.
The fundamental task of complaint stimulation is the establishment of complaint channels. Basically, verbal, written, telephone and electronic complaint channels can be chosen. In any case it is necessary to make it easy for customers to express their dissatisfaction. Furthermore, the respective responsibilities and processes must be internally defined.
The establishment of complaint channels must be actively communicated. This can be done in various ways: by the use of mass media, specially designed communication means, such as complaint websites, or by printing customer hotline numbers on packages, invoices, receipts or advertising material, etc.
These measures to stimulate complaints directly can be supported by activities aiming at the reduction of complaint barriers. Among these are the simplification of the problem-solving process, customer satisfaction surveys, as well as product, service and satisfaction guarantees that substantially increase the perceived success probability of a complaint.
Complaint stimulation measures should be introduced gradually in order to make sure that the required resources for gaining increased complaint volume can be built up.
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