Should You Wait For Customers To Complain?

January 12, 2012

Yesterday was the last date to pay our daughters’ school term fees. Usually I take care of these things well in advance, but somehow, I missed it this time and remembered it on the very last day.

This school accepts only Cash payments, no online transfer possible, someone has to go there physically and make the payment. Unfortunately, I had no time for this yesterday, and asked my wife to do it.

She went there, made the payment, and came back. I saw the receipt and filed it.

After some time, my wife asked ‘Aren’t you going to ask me about the experience at the payment queue?’. She sounded really upset.

‘Okay, tell me what happened.’

‘There were only 10 people in front of me, but they took more than 40 minutes to accept payment from them, that lady in the counter was very very slow, Her manager should have seen the long queue and done something to speed-up things, they should have opened more counters, at least on the last day…’

This is just a sample of what she said, I counted at least 20 suggestions of improvement for the concerned school / bank.

Surprising thing is, that bank queue is always like this. I have stood in that queue more than 10 times and I almost always waited for 45 to 60 minutes before making my payment, and I never complained, I never made any suggestions for improvement. Why?

Simple reason, from my college days, I have never seen a short bank queue. So I accepted it as a ‘norm’ and didn’t complain.

On the other hand, my wife rarely steps inside a bank, So she is questioning the ‘norm’ and making improvement suggestions.

As a flip side scenario, If I am asked to cook for a day, may be I will come up with so many issues / difficulties / improvement suggestions in our kitchen and my wife will wonder ‘Are you crazy? I cook there all the time and never had these problems!’

Look at this from a product manufacturer, or service provider’s angle. They may be having hundreds of customers, some of them complain, others are silent. Does that mean this second group is happy?

May Be. But what if they are just ‘accepting the norm’ (like me in the bank queue) and being silent? That is a dangerous sign.

Let us say tomorrow a new bank opens in my daughters’ school premise and they find innovative ways to accept payments faster and in a more convenient manner (For example, Online payment, home pickup of school fees etc.,). I will be switching to that bank, without complaining anything to the first bank. Because they are changing the norms and these people are not.

Means, if you wait for your customers to come, complain and help you improve, you may be losing your market share soon. Winners will be those who don’t wait for others to tell them what to do and improve / innovate constantly, on their own.

– Naga Chokkanathan, CRMIT

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