A lot. I love talking with my customers because they almost always have a lot to tell me about their experiences with sales and marketing. This is powerful feedback for our growth. It could mean the difference between thriving and struggling in 2012.
Are we listening? If we want to increase our revenues this year, perhaps we movers and shakers should pay less attention to the “latest study” and pay more attention to what our customers are telling us about how we can make our businesses more user friendly and more beneficial to their objectives.
Here’s the top 12 most offensive, honest to God, real, live, customer complaints I heard from October to March 2012 (in the mid-market B2B technology services vertical):
1. “Your advertisements say you do this, but then you do that.”
If I’m going to market something, I’d better be 100% sure that’s what I’m REALLY prepared to do. People really hate the bait and switch. That’s right: integrity is still a sore spot in B2B. I need to settle on my company’s true message and stay true to that message in every engagement from first blush all the way through to fullfilment.
2. You don’t even know what we have!”
There’s no excuse for being unprepared. I need to do my homework. Wasting my customer’s time asking them things I could have easily found out before calling them is a slap in the face. It’s my job to know more about what they do than they do.
3. “Your sales rep didn’t follow through with me.. twice!”
If I commit to something, I need to write it down and create a reminder on my calendar. I need to tattoo it on my forehead or take advantage of whatever other fail safes are possible to make sure I do what I said I would do. If I can’t make a meeting, I need to reschedule it as soon as I know that. I can’t leave a customer hanging even for a even a moment. I also need to be prepared to clean up someone else’s mess. Many customer’s have been disenchanted by less attentive colleagues. This can be a huge differentiator over the competition. The devil is in MISSING the details.
4. “You don’t have what we need.”
This is an invitation to ask my customer about their needs. It may well be that I don’t have what they need, but it may also be that they haven’t really considered what’s possible, or they aren’t really clear on what I’m suggesting. Either way, I need to ask them what they need and listen closely to the answer. Engage and find out exactly what is needed. There’s gold in them there needs.
5. “You didn’t solve my technical issues yet. Why should I trust you with anything new?”
Great customer service is one of the best lead nurturing tools at my disposal. I’ve found that if I take care of the customer’s experience, it opens many doors. Quality matters more now than ever before. I need to prepare ahead of time to address this eventuality. What will I say? How will I turn this around and turn a complaint into a recommendation?
6. “You’re prices are too high. I can get a better price from your competitors.”
Unless my company is working on a low price leader strategy (which is not too likely), this complaint is an open invitation to discuss value. I need to engage my customer about what matters long term: TCO, support, usability, lifecycle management. See my other post on what customers are really saying when they say “your price is too high”…
7. “Your sales rep is a jerk! He insulted my intelligence.”
Industry knowledge is important, but being right is not nearly as important as being helpful. I need to park my ego and keep the end game in mind. It’s not about right or wrong answers. My focus needs to be on leading my customer through the decision process with integrity and grace. I can’t just spout answers that I think are “right.” I need to ask questions that let them arrive at the solution that makes the most sense for them.
8. “We already have that. Why are you pitching it again?”
They may be right. They may already have that. But then again, they may be misunderstanding what I am are offering. I need to ask questions that determine if indeed we are talking about the same thing, and if they indeed have the best solution that is truly going to serve their business goals.
9. “We’re loyal to brand X.”
Who is brand X and why are they so dad blamed special? Everybody has their reasons, but this complaint deserves a few questions about why. If nothing else, it’s a great way to determine how my customer perceives value and glean a few points that I could build into my offering next time. It’s also my duty to gather intel for marketing and product development so we can win together in the bigger picture. I need to use each moment to learn how to do better next time, or there might not be a next time.
10. “We’re a small company (or we’re a big company) so we don’t need that.”
Yet another invitation to discuss value. I need to ask about how they operate; about plans for the future; about how they got where they are. I can’t just leave them where they’re at. I need to lead them to thinking about what’s possible. I need to remember that part of my goal in this is to keep the conversation going as long as they are willing and keep it focused on them. This is how we get to the really good stuff.
11. “I get a bunch of calls from you guys every day. Stop calling me!”
It can be downright irritating to be gang-called by a thoughtless conglomerate. While few of us are fans of “cold calling,” if someone takes the time to really build value and has something important to speak into our situation, most of us are willing to listen, yes? How would I like to be communicated with? I need to build a relationship and nurture it. In some cases, I will need to overcome a lot of ill will and be different. I might just have to apologize and hang up. On the other hand, I might be able to connect and turn this around. Timing is a big factor here.
12. “If I want something I will call you.”
If I’m hearing this one a lot, it might be time to rethink my marketing strategy. Take it back to formula. Is there a better way to get more positive sentiment in customer’s minds before contacting them? Am I doing sufficient inbound marketing? Am I building sufficient customer engagement?
It doesn’t get any better than this: Customers telling us about what we’re doing wrong and inviting us to improve! Clearly some of us are in businesses where we have little say in these things. Nonetheless, we have some influence and we can make a difference.
What other complaints are you hearing from your customers?
How have they shaped your future B2B sales and marketing strategy?
Based on your experience what would you do differently?
Here’s a few other articles about customer complaints:
Making the Most of Customer Complaints By Stefan Michel, David Bowen and Robert Johnston WSJ.COM
How to Handle Customer Complaints – Tali Yahalom INC.COM
7 Steps for Resolving Customer Complaints – Rosa LIFEHACK.ORG
70% of Customers Ignore Customer Complaints on Twitter – Jay Baer CONVINCEANDCONVERT.COM