Handling Negative Customer Feedback

On the surface, it would be easy for utilities to have a laissez-faire attitude toward negative customer feedback.  I mean, let’s face it, despite the push to deregulate, especially on the electric utility side, utility companies are still monopolies at their core.  So does it really matter if customers are satisfied?  Well, the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ but this brings up another question – how should utilities deal with upset customers?

The immediate tactic is obvious – customers delivering negative feedback, whether it’s on the phone, over social media channels, or on the 11 o’clock news, must be dealt with immediately as a form of damage control.  However, the proper course of action beyond this immediate response is less clear.  For example, does the complaint warrant changing internal processes, or should it be dismissed as unimportant?

Segmentation Strategy for Handling Negative Customer Feedback

Luckily, there is a way to help determine the proper longer-term course of action, and it involves segmenting your complaining customers into buckets.  Here is the recommended segmentation and what it means in terms of addressing complaints:

  • Mainstream customers – Represents the core of your customer base, and therefore any complaints from this segment should be evaluated as a basis for making changes.
  • Hypersensitive customers – This segment tends to be very picky, and therefore complaints from these customers should be taken with a grain of salt and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Clueless customers – Generally, complaints coming from this segment do not warrant any action beyond the immediate damage control.

The bottom line is that negative customer feedback is inevitable, especially during outage restoration situations.  In all cases, immediate damage control must be performed, but any action beyond this initial response must be evaluated based on the type of customer delivering the complaint.

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