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Complaints? Bring ‘Em On

“Complaints? Bring ‘Em On”

Dale Crownover loves it when customers complain. “A complaint is nothing but an opportunity to improve your business,” stresses the CEO of Texas Nameplate Co. (TNC), a Dallas-based manufacturer of identification plates generating about $4.5 million in annual sales.Texas Nameplate doesn’t get many gripes — less than 1% of customers complain, compared to an industry norm of 5%. Nonetheless, if there’s an unhappy customer out there, Crownover wants to find out why. And find out quickly.

To that end, TNC includes a quick-response card with every shipment. The self-addressed stamped card asks customers to rate six factors — product quality, product packaging, proper documents, package condition, quantity received and comparison to competitors — on a scale from one to six. Respondents are asked to identify themselves and their company, with assurances that responses are kept confidential. “You have to make it easy for people to complain,” says Crownover.

And you have to respond. “The worst thing is to fill out a response and have no one get back to you,” he adds. At TNC, all complaints, formal and informal, get reviewed daily, and customers are contacted within four hours. Whenever a corrective action takes place as a result of complaint, TNC follows up on the action to make sure it solved the problem and the customer is happy.

Other ways TNC gets feedback from customers:

  • An annual survey provides 70 different indicators of customer satisfaction.
  • A team of TNC employees visits customer facilities to look for ways to improve products and services; that information gets shared with everyone at the company.

Feedback is crucial, says Crownover “And it’s tough to read customers’ minds.”