With complaints to Ofcom continuing to rise in Q1 2014[6] and almost 15,000 complaints a day made about financial services organisations in 2013 to the FCA[7], companies must be prepared to do more than ever to retain customers in the wake of a negative experience, according to The Grass Roots Group.

The prevalence of social media has meant that negative interactions with a business spread to twice as many people as positive ones[8], and a massive 65 per cent of us now rely on Twitter[9] to get in touch with companies rather than going through a call centre. This very public and immediate way of complaining could be extremely damaging for those companies who don’t react in the right way, and result in them losing existing customers as well as alienating new ones.

Figures have shown that reducing customer defection rates by just five per cent can increase profits by between five and 95 per cent[10], making it all the more important to respond to unhappy customers at the right time and in the right way. Indeed, responding with the right gesture has been found to increase customer retention rates to a massive 70 per cent[11].


“A simple and timely gesture can mean the difference between a customer sticking with you and singing your praises, or shouting about their bad experience all over social media where it will spread like wildfire. The first step is to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, following up with a timely and unexpected gift to show that you value your customers, making them think twice abut taking their business elsewhere,” comments Vikki Zelkin, Head of Client Services, Promotions and Incentives at The Grass Roots Group.


“However, it’s not just those who shout the loudest that could be damaging for a business. For every person that does complain, there are 26 who stay silent[12], choosing to show their dissatisfaction by defecting to a competitor. Businesses therefore need to ensure they are not only responding to the vocal minority but the silent majority,” she adds.


The “Right Gesture, Right Time” platform from The Grass Roots Group can help businesses to turn a negative experience into a positive one by providing a quick and efficient way to apologise to customers when things do go wrong. Employees can be empowered to assess whether a customer meets your company’s criteria for an apology gift and then to despatch it directly to them. By offering the right gesture when things go wrong – but also at the point of renewal or in the wake of a competitor’s promotion – can turn around a negative perception and go a long way to retain customers.


For more information about the “Right Gesture, Right Time” platform and how it can benefit businesses, please visit



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