"Embrace customer complaints" is probably a cringe-worthy idea to some of you. The thought of negative feedback may trigger something inside of you that frankly, makes you want to crumble up all the papers on your desk or just throw your laptop against the wall. Wait, please, help is on the way.  

At my company, we LOVE to get negative feedback. It's rare and candidly, if there was a lot, maybe my team wouldn't embrace it as much. My company is able to do well even though we don't have a gold standard service method like The Ritz-Carlton hotel or follow ten core values like Zappos. How does my company earn such a high Net Promoter Score (NPS). Simple, we turn customer complaints into opportunities to improve customer experience.

If you would like to do the same, here's how our company gathers and uses feedback to improve customer experience and strengthen customer loyalty.

Gather Data.

In order to improve customer experience, your company needs to gather data. One way is to send an anonymous survey. You could create your own web form. My company likes to use the Net Promoter Score or NPS survey style.

The Net Promoter Score survey works like this. Clients receive an anonymous survey. The client then ranks how likely they are to recommend your company on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being "Yikes. Stay away!" to 10, being evangelists. These scores are then weighted. People who ranked you 0-6 ("Detractors") bring your overall NPS score way down; people whose expectations are met (the 7-8s) don't move your score at all; the 9-10 ("Promoters") move your score up. The last group are your loyal customers who will sing your praises to everyone, any opportunity they get.  

Aim for 10s.

You want to aim for 10s all the time. In truth, the 9s don't carry as much weight as you think they would. For those of you who know about NPS and for a few of you who are just learning, here's why they use the weighting for NPS and why an 8 or 9 isn't a good score.  

Think of the customer experience this way. If you're a customer and you have a decent, unremarkable experience with no problems, how many people do you tell? Even if the experience was a B+, would you post on Insta or tell a friend "work with this company?" Probably not. Even if it was absolutely stellar service, you might tell a few people or send out that Tweet. Okay, getting the picture so far? 

Now, what if your experience was not great? Horrible even? What if you called, got bounced around the phone system and then nobody calls you back? What if you get the wrong product and need to print out a label, go to the UPS Store and hound the company for the replacement or refund? How many people do you tell now? Anyone who will listen, right? And this my fine friends, is the premise of the weighting for NPS.  

Ask the Ultimate Question. 

To score 10s and turn clients into promoters, your company needs to ask clients exactly where you can improve.

My company asks the ultimate customer experience question: "If you didn't rate us at a 10, what would it take to give us a 10?" Then my team reads every comment and modifies procedures based on the responses. It's the best way to improve and keep customers coming back.

The common method of many companies is to solely focus on customers who are completely dissatisfied, the 0-6 people. While these issues need to be fixed, the real growth comes from focusing on the passively satisfied customers, the ones who rated your service a 7, 8, or even a 9. These customers aren't wowed enough to rave about your company. However, by finding out how to exceed these "passively satisfied" customer expectations, your company can really grow in loyalty.

Fix Mistakes.

Finally, improving customer experience is not all about surveys or NPS scores. Sometimes it's just about doing right by your customer in a timely fashion when they are unhappy.

If you don't fix mistakes when they happen, then dissatisfied customers become negative evangelists. They will share their dissatisfaction with as many people as possible destroying the company brand you have spent so much time building. However, if you take the opportunity to exceed expectations when fixing a customer complaint, you can often turn a complainer into an evangelizer. Your toughest critics will become your biggest advocates.

My company didn't always earn high customer loyalty marks. Over the years, my team built customer loyalty through gathering data, focusing on customer complaints, and exceeding expectations when fixing mistakes. If you want to grow your customer loyalty, start learning from your customers how to exceed their expectations. You'll be happily surprised by the results.