Customer Service News: No News is Not Good News

Do you remember The Great Space Coaster? With a visual style and comic sensibility familiar to fans of The Muppets, the show ran in syndication from 1981 to 1986. As I was born in 1977, The Great Space Coaster was right in my wheelhouse for children’s television.

Gary Gnu, my favorite character, best known for the catchphrase “Now gnews is good gnews with Gary Gnu” opened each newscast with the following statement:

“This Is Gary Gnu. And The No Gnews is Good Gnews Show. The only TV gnews program guaranteed to contain no gnews whatsoever.”

While playing on a favored axiom of the armchair philosopher—television news is nothing but bad news—Gary also gets a few laughs from his own ineptitude. Think Ron Burgundy meets Fozzie Bear.

When it comes to customer service, the head-in-the-sand approach employed by Gary Gnu is actually quite counterproductive. Where your customers are concerned, no gnews is never good gnews.

Truthfully, most customers don’t complain, even when they have every reason in the world to be angry. For example, I’ve had numerous bad experience at Wal-Mart. I’ve never once complained. Why not?

Firstly, spending time on something I don’t hope to improve seems pointless. If I’ve already had a bad experience, why would I want to extend that experience by reliving it?

In some instances, I’m not even sure where to complain. Do I go to the manager? The suggestion box? A web site? And in some cases, like a restaurant for example, what’s going to happen to my food if I complain?

For customer-focused companies, this represents just one piece of a larger problem. While I may not go out of my way to file a complaint with the offending company, you better believe I’m telling my friends about it. So, to compound one unhappy customer you never knew about, my bad experience informs the opinion of 10 of my closest friends.

The pressing question then becomes, how do I get unhappy customers to tell me about it? First things first, make it easy to complain. Make communication outlets readily apparent in stores, on your web site, on packaging, or anywhere else a customer may be looking.

Next, be prepared to aggregate, analyze, and take action on customer complaints. You must have systems in place to recognize whether or not a bunch of people are complaining about the same thing.

And, most importantly, let customers know you’re listening. Acknowledge your complaints individually, and communicate any changes you make based on customer feedback. If customers feel as though their opinion matters, they’re far more likely to speak up.

Lastly, whether you get your gnews from Gary Gnu or Ron Burgundy, no gnews is NEVER good gnews.

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