Brands should embrace customers who complain

Consumers are more likely to complain now than they were five years ago – even though they are experiencing fewer problems, according to research from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

Mindi Chahal

Whether a company is publicly shamed via social media, receives negative reviews online or angry emails these customer grievances can be an immediate and free source of insight available to businesses on a daily basis, suggests Andrew Aldred, head of marketing at

Aldred believes that the customer service and marketing department need to align and communicate more effectively in order to use the information available effectively.

There is no doubt that the customer’s power to speak up has increased, particularly as many take to social media to air a brand’s dirty laundry. In some cases it can help the brand’s image because to be seen to be doing is just as important as doing it in today’s super connected world.

Just last week a response to a seven-year-old who wrote a letter to Lego went viral after the boy requested a replacement of a minifigure from the Ninjago set he had bought by saving his Christmas money.

Richard, a Lego customer service representative, responded claiming he had spoken to one of the lead characters, a master called Sensei Wu from the Ninjago set, who said it was ok for him to get a replacement and an extra minifigure.

Richard signed off the letter saying: “Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your Dad.”

Obviously this is a sweet example of a company dealing with a cute story and something that doesn’t happen all the time but the point is for companies to deal with customer feedback in an appropriate way and use that feedback beyond the response process.

Amalgamate the key complaints and apply it to a long-term strategy to improve the service so a brand can remain in the mind of consumers for positive rather than negative reasons.

The Marketing Week Engage Awards deadline has been extended. If you have used research effectively and want to get your hard work recognised, click here to enter the market research category before 29 January 2013.

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