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50% of complaints answered without apology: bad for customer satisfaction !

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This is the result of an analysis we conducted on a sample of 226 companies having answered to online customers’ complaints on the French forum www.lesarnaques.com. We presented these results and the proposal for a new conceptual model at the 5th International Conference on Rhetoric and Narratives in Management Research which was held from March 25th until March 27th at the ESADE Business School of Barcelona, Spain.

Among other management-related conclusions, we found out that 27% of the companies provided an irrelevant answer to the complaint, most of the time through not answering the questions asked. This is a major problem when you are willing to increase customer satisfaction.

 

The link between politeness, customer satisfaction et loyalty

It has long been shown that handling complaints deliver paradoxical results: the customer satisfaction after the complaint is higher than it would have been without any incident. In other words, the complaint gives the company an opportunity to raise the bar and show how important the customer is in its eyes.

The conceptual framework used to analyze complaint handling is the “justice theory framework”. Without entering too much in details (the presentation below will give you some hints and I’ll be happy to keep discussing online), politeness is by and large one component of the justice theory framework and it has been shown that politeness influences customer satisfaction and hence, loyalty.

 

 

Advice for your marketing strategy

A complaint is an opportunity. Marketing theorists say that a customer raising a complaint is willing to continue its relationship with the customer (otherwise he/she would have remained silent and would have ceased this relationship). Handling a complaint well is crucial to show to your dissatisfied customers that they matter. Handling complaints well is also a rich inspiration for products and services improvements.
If you would like to investigate how to answer complaints better to increase your customer satisfaction and foster your customers’ loyalty, drop us a line and we’ll explain you what to do.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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