An article titled “Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain” received a substantial amount of circulation on social media channels last week. The article explains that neuroscientist have developed a means of measuring brain activity in response to various stimuli.
The central message of the article is simple – when you are exposed to large amounts of complaints, you are more likely to behave similarly. Results from these neurological studies also suggest that overexposure to complaints can even reduce your intelligence level.
However, there is a large difference between a complaint and pointing out an issue. Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, differentiates the two terms by offering the following explanation:
“Typically, people who are complaining don’t want a solution; they just want you to join in the indignity of the whole thing. You can almost hear brains clink when six people get together and start saying, ‘Isn’t it terrible?’ This will damage your brain even if you’re just passively listening. And if you try to change their behavior, you’ll become the target of the complaint.”
The article then offers several tactics to defend yourself and your brain from such negativity. Although the information is interesting and engaging, it fails to demonstrate the value of complaints to businesses.
Simply stating that complainers are not looking for solutions is an overgeneralization. Although there are people that could be designated as “complainers,” (because they constantly are complaining about rather trivial issues) there are without a doubt complaints that are highly warranted.
Therefore, responding to negative feedback from customers, especially disgruntled buyers, is crucial to the success of any organization. But how should businesses respond to complaints? For starters, they should listen.
For the sake of this discussion, it is important to realize that hearing and listening have two very different meanings. Hearing is a physical trait that implies acknowledgement, whereas listening requires analyzing the content of the message, interpreting the information presented and performing an action based on contextual evaluation.
In other words, listening requires more effort. Obtaining feedback and compiling complaints can be done rather easily. However, responding to a complaint requires a great deal of internal processing.
There are a number of complaint management theories on how to handle issues that have been raised by consumers. Although most organizations are typically focused on “avoiding complaints,” a substantial amount of evidence suggests that encouraging complaints, evaluating the raised issues and reacting to them can greatly increase your customer experience.
Remember, even the most satisfied of customers can find something to complain about. Therefore, businesses should make it easy for customers to complain because it will help them develop deeper insights about their market. If organizations effectively respond to customer complaints, the likelihood of company success is greatly increased.
Taking the time to evaluate complaints, uncover any unforeseen issues and responding to customers with a pragmatic solution can be an extremely valuable means of transitioning dissatisfied patrons into loyal customers.
Furthermore, building a loyal following can greatly reduce the number of complaints an organization receives. This can also help reduce the amount of time required to resolve issues because influential customers, especially when they perceive the complaint to be insignificant, will voluntarily assist you with this process purely out of appreciation for your product or service.
Complaints, no matter how big or small the issue is perceived to be, should be viewed as a gift. They are an easy and highly rewarding means of gaining unique insight from customers. Because of this notion, TAP Management complaints are treated as golden opportunities for success, growth and long term survival. Fostering a culture and company atmosphere that embraces this philosophy is essential to our brand.
TAP Management Inc. | 515 Congress Avenue, Suite 2525 | Austin, TX | (512) 527-6000