Research suggests that the vast majority of consumers avoid complaining directly to companies; here's how reputation managment helps them spill the beans.
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Conceptual Minds | March 22, 2023
Harsh customer complaints are a fact of life among retailers; you(eventually) learn not to take them personally.
Given the regularity with which these incidents occur, you may assume that any relevant complaints have already been voiced(especially if you’ve been operating your business for a while).
But you’d be wrong.
Research suggests that the vast majority of consumers avoid complaining directly to companies; in one study, 96 percent of customers kept their thoughts to themselves. With those numbers, it’s safe to assume there are many legitimate complaints you’ve never heard.
Why Do Customers Have a Hard Time Complaining?
We’re experts in marketing, not psychology, but generally speaking, there’s a social cost to complaining that many people wish to avoid. People avoid complaining in the same way they try to avoid unnecessary conflict.
You can presume any of the following factors are at play:
It’s too inconvenient to complain(The process is too lengthy or complex)
They believe no one wants to hear their complaint
They may fear that complaining may impact the quality of service they receive
Or they may have a conflict-averse personality
Social Review Sites Cover the Social Cost of Complaining
This dynamic is precisely why good reputation management of social review sites is critical to success in the modern era. Unlike in-person conversation, social review sites are structured to lower the cost of complaining and to make reviewing simple.
There’s no one to offend or nearby customers to be embarrassed in front of. Best yet, complaining can help others by saving them from a bad experience or directing them towards an amazing one.
Moreover, such sites also allow you the distance to respond to such complaints without getting caught up in the moment. Here, you can carefully consider their complaints, compare them to other customer service experiences, and develop a solution to benefit both parties.
Communication is just far more complex when someone gets under your skin.
How to Interpret Negative Feedback from Yelp and Google Reviews
One of the most important lessons of reputation review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews is that every story has multiple sides.
The job of a reputation manager is to figure out whether the issue at hand lies with you or the customer.
Let’s take this complaint at an independent, tri-state area auto shop.
We have a one-star rating, and the reason is apparent: they felt the inspection’s price was too high.
At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this person’s complaint for the following reasons:
It’s a little dramatic. An extra $30 for the“same” service isn’t the personal insult he took it to mean.
It’s also a stretch to say that this pricing reflects a careless, indifferent, or greedy attitude among ownership. He’s presuming that this shop charges an arm and a leg without checking out the pricing of any other service.
It’s also understandable that an independent auto shop would charge more than a national chain.
The auto shop may have done nothing wrong from a pricing and process standpoint.
That said, his comment is still valuable, as it gives us an understanding of how price-sensitive customers may feel about the cost of an inspection. By investigating the issue, we’ll additionally learn what neighboring shops charge, and how inspections vary from one shop to the other.
With that knowledge, management can weigh the value of adjusting the pricing, shifting customer communication(Including expectation-setting), or any other changes to options to make inspections feel like a good value.
Reputation Sites Offer an Unfiltered Feedback Loop
Such sites offer a customer-client feedback loop that provides otherwise rare bits of customer feedback. Carefully considering their messages—which often requires a good deal of reading between the lines—shows you your customers experience roadblocks.
Armed with that information, you create the kind of customer experience that earns rants and raves.
Learn About Conceptual Minds
As automotive industry veterans, the Conceptual Minds team are experts at growing car counts through effective and personable marketing. If you are unsure of your current marketing strategy and want some guidance, reach us at 877.524.7696.
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