The average American generates between four and five pounds of waste each day, which adds up to more than 33 tons in a lifetime. Only one-third of it is recycled. Concerned about these numbers, a municipal government commissioned us to study household recycling. The findings were straightforward and our summary was simple: “Each hurdle you make householders go over and each barrier you put in their way reduces the number of people willing to recycle their trash. Householders want to put it all in one bag and let workers sort it out while recycling centers want householders to sort and organize their trash. Some want householders to wash it first. Others will not pick up recyclables curbside, but expect householders to deliver it to them. When you put the onus on householders to deliver their trash to you in ways that make their life difficult and recycling centers’ jobs easy, many householders will hit their limit and stop recycling.”
If you’ve ever pointed out something to a phone rep, shared an observation, and/or made a suggestion, you were probably told you needed to visit a related site where you can file your comments. This they likely presented as a service, when actually it is a roadblock. Why? Those who have been around know we cannot depend on customers to formally voice their concerns because most won’t bother. Studies show again and again that 90% of customers don’t bother to make suggestions or register complaints because:
- It’s too much trouble.
- The company won’t do anything about it.
- No one cares anyway.
Throwing away data like this is foolishly extravagant.
Hundreds and thousands of customers call companies’ help lines, tech lines, and service lines every day, mostly with problems. Companies are already recording calls for training or quality control purposes. Companies that ignore live comments and suggestions are throwing away hundreds and thousands of valuable data points by directing customers to go somewhere else and tell their stories all over again. Doesn’t it strike you as wrongheaded for companies to expect they can really understand their customers when their feedback model ignores 90% of them?
How to Recycle Customer Complaints.
Build a system that captures real-time comments and suggestions made by customers during tech support calls. And while you’re at it, do the same with customer service calls, too. This a job for computers and algorithms. Big Data is the large batches of stuff to be collected and A.I. is the way to look at them. Recorded comments from all customer interactions provide the huge data sets that companies can feed to A.I. and machine learning to categorize, analyze, and summarize. A very clever organization would design their A.I. to be actively managed and monitored by real data scientists. They would capture feedback continuously and analyze it continuously. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Make some lemonade.
Use what you learn from all of your inbound customer calls to:
- Route your customer calls more efficiently than you are doing now.
- Write better scripts for your phone reps so they have more and better solutions at hand when customers call.
- Improve your products and services in ways that please customers and make their lives easier.
These things will earn you more customer loyalty than your satisfaction surveys are doing now because you are making things easy for them and you are showing them you care enough about their problems to do something about them.
Everybody’s hot for A.I. but few can figure out ways to deploy it. Be an innovator.