Martin P Wilson


Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Insight, IT

Facilitation and Mentoring for Success.

Compaints and Opprotunity – Dark Stormy Skys and Beauty Often CoexistNow that so much business is done on line enterprises often have very little face to face or even telephone contact with customers. The problem of faceless customer relations began with mail order and was already being exacerbated by the growth of call centres. The opportunity to understand customer needs through informal conversation has all but disappeared.

Solidus has long argued that complaints are the last real opportunity for such contact but the potential benefits are being squandered by rigid processes, scripted responses and even dehumanised e-mail and web-based systems.

Brand Destruction by Product Terrorists

It is often said that a customer with a complaint about a supplier spreads that news widely and rapidly so that within 24 hours most of their immediate friends and family are aware of it. If the complaint is not dealt with quickly and effectively the complainant rapidly becomes a “product terrorist” and is actively damaging the expensively developed brand. Even worse are the customers who never complain and move directly to “product terrorism” telling all and sundry how bad the supplier is. With the advent of internet forums and social media they do not just tell their friends and family, it can go global, instantly. A brand is soon damaged.

However, the reverse can be the case. Sort out a customer’s problem quickly and effectively and she will use the same channels to sing the supplier’s praises. Furthermore, the complaint provides a reason to contact the customer and talk to them, an opportunity to really understand what the client really thinks of the product, the company and what they associate with the brand. Satisfied customers do not, usually, contact the supplier as they have simply received the product or service they expected when they made the purchase; there should be nothing noteworthy in that.

Complaints as Opportunity to Engage the Customer

So complaints are probably the last opportunity to “wow” the customer and to understand their view of the business. Unless complaints are disproportionately frequent, in which case there are other problems to fix, they should be welcomed as an opportunity to engage with customers and enhance the brand’s reputation.

Whenever we discussed this during a national service improvement programme for a major retail bank it was sometimes suggested that easily resolved complaints should be created to create customer engagement. It was tongue in cheek, no one was actually that cynical; in actual fact it would not work as for every complainant there are many more dissatisfied customers who will just grumble or, worse, become “product terrorists”. But it showed how the idea of complaints as opportunity had struck home; the bank picked up on it and empowered the branches to deal with complaints locally.

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Quick Thoughts

Has Military Action Ever Dissuaded Tyrants?

Syria - flagIn his speech before the war in Iraq Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister, argued that not intervening would send a message that tyrants would feel at liberty to act without consequence. By military action in Iraq, he argued, those who would perpetrate atrocities would think twice. There would not seem to be any evidence, before or since, that would back up that contention.

We now have David Cameron, the current Prime Minister, making essentially the same arguments – do politicians ever learn from history?


Government Spending is not Driver of Growth

Parliament Square London IC02001If more public spending is the only way to create growth then surely governments have become too large a part of the economy? Government is about spending and has little to do with creating wealth.

The best government can do is move wealth from individuals and business to those who serve government.


Capped Bonuses, There May be Trouble Ahead

Politicians do not seem to be good at imagining unintended consequences. The cap on bankers’ bonuses, however popular, may be counter-productive in reducing risk.

Dark Stormy Skys and Beauty Often CoexistIf a smaller proportion of a trader’s income is at risk if a trade goes wrong they may pursue high-risk opportunities to get that big win. If it works they guarantee the full bonus and could also use it to negotiate a higher salary (and bonus) for the following year. If it fails the downside is limited by the capped bonus to a smaller part of overall income. At the end of the day traders are competitive and gamblers at heart so will they be more likely to pursue the big win when their own risk is limited?

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