No one welcomes customer complaints. If you’ve answered the phone to them you’ll know what I mean. But it’s possible to find new insights into your product or service if you see complaints as opportunities. Look closely and you might identify hidden weaknesses. There may be areas for improvement or gaps in your product range.
It’s impossible to predict every scenario before a product goes live. Only the end-user can determine if a product has succeeded in meeting their needs. No matter how much pre-launch preparation takes place the only way to discover the sticking-points is through customer feedback.
Let your customers know that you’re looking for feedback
If you want to find ideas in customer complaints, first of all tell them that you’re listening. You could wait for customers to contact you when problems arise but you’ll learn more if you keep the conversation open. This way you discover potential problems right away before they escalate.
Simple questions for your customers
- Is there anything we could do better? This may be a change to the product itself or elsewhere in the offering.
- Does our product do everything that the customer needs?
- Or does he turn to additional products to fill the gap?
- Are there more features than the customer needs? Is our product too complicated?
Acknowledge customer input
You’ll encourage feedback if you acknowledge the impact of customer contributions. When feedback does help towards a better product try to thank the customers who identified the problem in the first place.
At the very least you’ll make those individuals more loyal. On a wider scale the market may see that you treat your customers well, plus you value innovation.
Give weight to the views of actual customers over general market sentiment
Your customers are engaged in your product. The rest of the market may have less experience of your brand. It’s clear whose opinions you should trust when looking for ideas in customer complaints.
When you focus on customers alone, in effect this excludes competitors, which can be a problem with unrestricted feedback systems.
Monitor social media
In the days before the internet there were fewer options for dissatisfied customers. If a company wanted to look for ideas in customer complaints they could turn to a single organised file. Nowadays customers share feedback (and lots of it) across social media. And that happens whatever your preferred channel.
If you’re scouting for dissatisfied customers a good technique is to search Google. Enter the product name plus terms such as ‘disappointing’, ‘problem’ or ‘alternative’. Dissatisfied customers in a particular sector often gather in the same place. They may use a specific forum or social media platform. Search for phrases such as ‘Why isn’t there…?’ or even ‘Pain in the ass’.
Pay most attention to the loudest cries for help
If there’s a really serious problem bearing down on your customers they’ll turn to you straightaway. Put yourself in their shoes to appreciate the impact in their lives. The bigger the impact for them the greater the priority you should give to finding a solution.
Saving your customers has to be first on your list. So the situation may require an emergency fix. What you’re looking at is a pain point. It’s when the crisis is under control that you should review whether a long-term solution could provide a business opportunity.
If you’re looking for step-by-step strategies to find a business idea see the post Find a niche and dominate a niche – top 5 best-selling books.
Research whether customers would be willing to pay for your solution
Often the most direct question is the most effective. Ask your customers if a solution would be worth paying for. This determines if the product idea is feasible in simple financial terms. If product development does go ahead you’ll have a starting point for a more comprehensive pricing strategy.
Ideas in customer complaints can be tough to exploit…
Catering for ‘underserved’ consumers is not an easy route for a new entrant to the market. Established companies often are in a position to modify their offering quickly. So a start-up needs to ensure that it has high barriers to emulation. This might take the form of an entirely different business model from current providers. For example, a start-up may decide to use short flash sales at discount prices when the rest of the market operates bricks and mortar retail. A simple upgrade (or downgrade) of product features is something that established competitors can easily copy into their own product line.
And think about your own complaints
Think about the problems you experience yourself with products in your daily life. If something doesn’t work for you then other people are probably experiencing the same dissatisfaction. Rather than put up with the pain consider whether you could develop a solution that would appeal to the market. This is the traditional path to success for many inventors such as James Dyson.
Get your team on board. If you want to find ideas in customer complaints then you’re going to have to involve everyone who speaks to them. This research can only be done in the real world by talking to the real experts. Your customers. You may know the difference it makes when you attack a complaint with enthusiasm, I certainly do. Still, I can’t say I’m entirely looking forward to the next one…