6 Mobile Tools for Managing Customer Complaints

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Local merchants wear a lot of hats, instantly morphing from salespeople to stockers to cashiers in the blink of an eye. With everything that goes into running a brick-and-mortar establishment, it’s no wonder that addressing the customer experience can sometimes fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, allowing customer complaints to go unanswered or ignored can have unintended consequences. Eighty-nine percent of consumers in a Harris Interactive survey said they have switched to a competitor following a poor customer service interaction at an establishment.

Rather than hiring additional employees to answer customer queries, manage complaints, check inventory, and process returns, local retailers are increasingly looking for mobile solutions. Here are six platforms that merchants can use to interact with customers and resolve issues without taking their focus off the people currently inside their stores.

1. TalkBin: Let customers lodge complaints anonymously.
TalkBin provides merchants with a way to communicate with customers privately via SMS or through a mobile app. Participating businesses get a TalkBin phone number, which customers can text anonymously when they have issues or complaints. Merchants can reply to these anonymous messages via text or email, providing solutions to problems in real time. Feedback that comes in anonymously is more likely to be honest, providing businesses with insight they might not be able to obtain through face-to-face interactions. TalkBin charges merchants $25 a location, per month.

2. Venga: Link customer complaints to your point-of-sale system.
When restaurants use Venga’s instant feedback platform, their customers can communicate with management privately via text or a mobile website. By integrating with the restaurant’s point-of-sale system, Venga is able to link feedback to specific transactions, allowing management to see which servers or menu items are causing the majority of customer complaints. Venga charges clients between $99 and $399 a month, per location for its suite of guest management tools.

3. OpinionLab: Learn what’s stopping shoppers from completing transactions.
Customer complaints can provide valuable insight into the ways a merchant can improve his or her business. OpinionLab is a tool that merchants can use to solicit feedback from customers who’ve left their establishments without making a purchase. Using geolocation data, OpinionLab is able to send virtual comment cards to customers inside participating retail stores. OpinionLab offers custom pricing options based on the size of the retailer.

4. TxtandTell: Quickly recover from customer service blunders.
Businesses in the dining, retail, and hospitality industries can use TxtandTell to communicate with customers via text, QR codes, Twitter, or the web. By sending one-minute surveys to their customers’ mobile phones immediately after transactions have taken place, merchants can strengthen their relationships and find out if they’ve done anything to earn their customers’ ire. Any issues that come up can be resolved immediately, before the customer defects to a competitor. Businesses can also provide incentives (like free drinks or 10%-off coupons) to encourage customers to complete the surveys they send out. Merchants can find out about pricing options by contacting TxtandTell directly.

5. Gripe: Resolve complaints in a public forum.
Gripe is primarily known as a location-aware mobile app that consumers can use to voice their complaints about businesses; however, the platform also offers tools that merchants can use to resolve these issues and establish relationships with disgruntled customers. By “claiming” their stores, merchants can find out immediately whenever new “gripes” are posted. They can then contact posters through the Gripe platform and resolve these issues in a public setting. Gripe charges merchant a “nominal one-time fee” to claim their businesses.

6. Rant & Rave: Get actionable insight from customer complaints.
Businesses that use Rapide’s Rant & Rave platform can solicit feedback from their customers in real time, at the precise moments when they’re most likely to have a strong opinion (like after completing a transaction or entering a store). Customers can connect with management via SMS, MMS, email, or voice message. Rant & Rave automatically analyzes these complaints and uses the resulting data to come up with actionable insight. Managers can respond to time-sensitive complaints immediately through the platform, before angry customers have a chance to post their issues on a public forum like Yelp. Businesses can contact Rapide for custom pricing options.

Know of other platforms that brands can use to manage customer complaints in real time? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.