When consumers are dissatisfied with a product or service they may respond in one or more of the following ways:
- Take no action.
- Discontinue purchasing of the product or using the service.
- Complain to the company.
- Complain to consumer court or other bodies setup for the purpose by the industry/trade associations or consumer associations.
- Engage in negative word of mouth communication to other consumers.
(1) Take No Action:
There are large number of consumers in India who just grumble and take no action except stopping future purchase of that brand or service. But since the passing of Consumer Protection Act in 1986 the percentage of consumers who do not take any action is declining with the increasing awareness of consumers rights and spread of education, in future there may be further decline in such consumers. But at present they account for nearly 90 per cent of buyers and in rural areas almost hundred per cent do not take any action except stopping purchases of that brand.
(2) Discontinue Purchasing the Product or using the Service
When a consumer is dissatisfied his first reaction is to stop buying a brand which has given him dissatisfaction. In India even this choice was very limited before competition started in the market. There was time when only three models of cars were available; most of the customers were dissatisfied but still had to buy them only.
In smaller towns there is only one picture hall; often viewers are not satisfied with the conditions of the hall; chair, light etc. but they have no alternative. There are certain bus routes even in Delhi where shabby busses are running or the behaviour of conductor is not good; still one has to use it. In other words a consumer can discontinue only when alternative is available.
(3) Complain to the Company
When a consumer complains to the manufacture or seller it is called vice response. The complaint is made for redressel of complaint or dissatisfaction, claim compensation, exchange the product, return the money or just to inform the company about the quality of the product and service of its distributors, retailers.
All the good companies who care for consumers in their own interest listen to the complaints and make all possible efforts to remove them and satisfy the customers. In India there are companies that if there textile fabric fades before reasonable time, not only it is exchanged by a new fabric but consumer is also compensated for stitching charges.
Complaints can also be with regard to service of retail outlet and sales people, quality of service of bank and insurance company or courier service, travel agent, air lines and so forth. Many banks have special cell to listen to consumers, rectify their complaint and take action against erring staff. The complainant is also informed about the action taken who feels satisfied and confidence is restored.
There are companies who welcome complaints and besides responding to the compliment makes internal assessment so that similar dissatisfaction is not repeated and service of the product is improved. The complaints are tabulated, discussed with concerned departments, replies are sent to the consumers to explain the defect and ensure him that such occasion will not arise in future. This helps in restoring confidence.
(4) Complaints to Consumer Court/Other Bodies
In 1986 India passed Consumer Protection Act to protect consumers interest. Under the Act lot of facilities have been given to consumers to complain to consumer forum. There is increasing number of cases of complaints and in many judgments severe punishment has been awarded. These complaints do very adverse publicity and should be avoided by marketer.
With the spread of consumer movement there are other bodies too where consumers can make complaint, but such bodies in India by and large do not care much for consumers. The complaint can also be made through news papers against service providers, Stock Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has established special cell to look into complaints of customers.
There are consumers when they are dissatisfied engage in negative publicity of a product or service through word of mouth communication to other consumers. These private responses have lot of adverse impact on sales. These private responses are made when the problem is severe and company does not response positively and to the satisfaction of consumers.
The private response can be with regard to quality of a product, neglect to complaint, poor response for replacement warranty and so on. Since word of mouth is quite damaging marketer should be responsive to negative complaint.
Factors Affecting Complaint
The complaint depends not only because of deficiency in product or service but also due to attitude of consumers.
There are various factors which influences the behaviour of the consumers to complain which briefly are spelled out below:
- Significance of Consumption
When a product is important, it has high priced, purchased for special event like marriage or consumer durable often complaint is made for redressal or to get act of frustration due to dissatisfaction.
- Knowledge and Experience
A person who has knowledge about a product or service, perception of ability as a consumer and previous experience of complaining is more likely to complain.
- Difficulty of Seeking Redress
The complaint involves time and costs and disrupts the routine. Therefore, there area large number of consumers who do not complain even when they are dissatisfied.
- Chances of Success in Complaining
When consumer feels that his complaint will be listened and action will be taken by the marketer, he is more likely to complain with greater care for consumers dissatisfaction the number of complaints are going up which is not necessarily due to higher level of dissatisfaction.
The lot of researches has been carried out in U.S.A. to find out characteristics of complaints and it has been found that persons who seek redressal generally are younger generation with higher than average income and education. They are positive about consumerist activities and prefer a life style that demonstrates individuality and they have little hesitancy in letting their problems and difficulties known to product and service providers.
However, there is sufficient convincing evidence that if consumers’ complaints are properly attended and the complaints are removed satisfactorily the consumer’s faith and confidence is restored. For instance, if any case of courier service complaint of delay is removed the consumer comes again to that courier service.
If the textile manufacturer replaces the cloth without any hitch or warranty is met speedily after complaint the consumer is reassured. Thus proper handling of complaints of consumers is very important for retaining the customer.
When a consumer is dissatisfied from a product or a new better product becomes available in the market or existing product has out lived its life consumer decides to dispose of the existing’ product which is possible only in case of durable goods.
The disposition can be in one of the following ways:
- Giving Away to some poor person or donate it for some worthy cause.
- Trade it, i.e. sell in the market at a price which can be realized.
- Exchange it with a new one. There are many companies who adopted this strategy. It helps the consumers to dispose off old product economically and conveniently and he is attracted towards a company who has exchange schemes.
- Recycled: There are certain products which can be converted into something else. For example in India old woolen clothes can be converted into woolen blankets. Besides personal recycling, certain products can be disposed only for recycling like waste paper, used aluminium, copper, brass and iron and steel wares.
- Sold to persons who cannot afford new products but want to own a product. Due to this factor there is big market for second hand cars and scooters in India. There is also market for second hand other durables like TV’s, VCR, AC, refrigerators etc. which are purchased either by consumers who cannot afford new products or by special shops who repair them and resale.
- Throw up when a consumer does not find a buyer or it is not possible to recycle or exchange it, the product is just thrown away. The throwing, however, can also be of FMCG when one does not like food, sweets, vegetable oil or something else he just throws it away in either garbage or flush it out in the toilet.
The disposition always is not for economic reasons; it can be for social and psychological factors too. When one wants to get free himself from old relationships he disposes off old photographs, jewellery, clothes etc. to disassociate from old life partner or just in disgust or anger.
The disposition has number of implications for marketer. The disposition of old belonging often results in purchase of a new product. If one disposes old scooter, old car, old house or furniture or, some other durable he normally buys a new product.
If a product is disposed off due to dissatisfaction in performance, the consumer will not buy same brand. Second disposal pattern can help in sales promotion and educating consumers about ability to recycle and reuse.