OFCOM, the UK communications regulator, has just released its latest report on complaints about major telecoms providers in the UK. Some operators attract far more complaints than others. Of the mobile operators, Three UK attracts a consistently high level of complaints, while O2 UK customers tend to complain the least. This is an impressive achievement for O2.
One big problem with complaining behaviour is that it’s contagious. Idiro carried out a study recently for an Asian mobile operator on the viral spread of complaining among their customer base. The study found that friends of complainers were far more likely to complain themselves than the overall customer base – so it seems that complaining can cause your friends to complain too.
This tallies with the findings of numerous surveys that report consumers more likely to share negative experiences with their friends than positive ones. This survey, for example, reports that consumers tell an average of nine people about good experiences, and 16 about bad experiences. The ease of communication brought by web 2.0 and ubiquitous mobile communications is only increasing those numbers.
So what to do about it? The obvious answer is to offer a service that eliminates all need to complain. However, even if it were feasible (it’s not), such a strategy might not serve the interests of the company’s shareholders. Finding and fixing the major causes of complaints is a good place to start and is at the heart of this year’s trendy buzzword in marketing, Customer Experience Management. But this is clearly not enough.
Idiro recommends that businesses focus also on identifying the influencers on your customer base. The top 10% of influencers typically have three times more influence that the average customer, according to studies carried out in many markets. Keeping these influencers happy will help cut off the contagion of complaints at the source. For those businesses with link data (telcos, multiplayer gaming companies, online social networks, etc.), Idiro can find the relevant influencers. Then your business can deploy the tools to give them a happy customer experience, increase their loyalty and decrease complaining and churn.