“People hate as they love, unreasonably.” ― William Makepeace Thackeray
If you follow some of the online optical forums you see Optometrists and Opticians complain about customer complaints. Every manner of euphemism is thrown out about the haters who hate and are of course being unreasonable in their description of XYZ Optometry and whatever products or services they are upset about.
The truth is however, each unhappy patient/customer usually represents about 50 patients or customers who never take to the social media sites to complain and instead just take their business elsewhere. That is why some companies take online reviews so seriously.
Of those fifty people who are dissatisfied and don’t complain publicly, 75% will relay their complaint to at least 8 of their friends. That 75% will rely the complaint to another 75% of their friends. Putting aside the complaint you did see on Facebook, Google+ or Yelp, the complaints you didn’t see or hear about have reached over 500 people.
Every complaint isn’t just about the one incident the complainer is speaking of. It’s often a symptom of things in your eyecare practice that can use improvement.
The first thing we have to acknowledge is that none of us is perfect. We can always improve and one of the best ways to improve is to listen to our customers and patients, and yes, the whiners and complainers too.
According to noted customer service speaker and New York Times best- selling author Jay Bear, “Complaints are where you learn to be a better company. The people who hate you, the people who complain, are actually THE most important customer you have.” He advises we answer every complaint, in every channel; every time and that we never ever (ever, ever, ever) answer a customer more than twice in a public setting.
How do we deal with customer complaints? As people, not organizations. It is far easier to be mad at some faceless organization than it is to be mad at Jane or Tom. So show some empathy and answer as a person, trying to understand that the person who took the time to complain is most likely having a bad day, having tried to find satisfaction first in person in your practice and then possibly via the phone or email before they resorted to social media.
Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. There are people looking to pick a fight, any fight. However, the majority of people who look to social media before walking into your practice will see that you are attentive to your patients and customers. Don’t forget, not responding is in itself a response.