Complain constructively for better customer service

Cliente enfadado?In a global survey, Accenture wrote about deteriorating customer service and how most of us have at least switched one of our own service providers because we were displeased that our expectations had not been met. Now in the great realm of this very complicated world, happiness with a company might be perceived differently – that is depending on what we expect, how and of course to what extent.

Statistically, or at least according to the Accenture survey of 2010, two-thirds of the respondents stated that customer service is a significant issue, and over half of consumers are not willing to compromise. We’re obviously all looking for better prices and better service, but how do we handle situations when they go awry? Do we abandon a company the first time there is a mistake? All companies are bound to drop the ball at one time or another, but I think it’s important to complain constructively. Chances are you will get what you want, and just as importantly it will give you the opportunity to see if that particular organization truly deserves your loyalty by how they handle the situation.

Too often when people are frustrated and lose their tempers, the dispute ends up at a dead-end. The consumer no longer will deal with that organization, and the company has lost a customer. So how do you deal with a problem so you can come out on top? Begin with taking a deep breath, and do not get near the telephone or the computer until you are calm. Remember the ultimate goal is to give the business the opportunity to resolve the problem. Also make sure you address the problem immediately; don’t ever procrastinate on a complaint.

Now on to a positive outcome. Be pleasant, polite and charming. In my own career I sell real estate, and especially in this economy realtors aren’t always the most pleasant with other realtors, however greet someone (even a grumpy realtor) with a cheerful “hello, how are you today, ” and rarely do you ever encounter a growl of displeasure. Do the same when contacting an organization. I also suggest you know what you want the outcome of your resolution to be. Last month Continental Airlines provided very poor on flight service to myself and my companion during a flight from Florida to Las Vegas. Immediately on my return I wrote to CEO Jeff Smisek, informed him of our disappointing service and reminded him of my customer loyalty for all of these years.

I received an apology and a promise to research the problem in the future, discounts for  new tickets were issued to our accounts, and the problem was solved. It was important however that I maintained all of my receipts, vouchers, and provided times, dates, and destinations. Each time you complain, you want to ascertain complete credibility – much better when you state your case using facts.

And may I make another suggestion that positively elevates one’s status when it is time to lodge a complaint? If you are speaking with a representative over the phone, be sure to use proper grammar, and make a conscious effort not to use “filler” words as “like,” “you know,” “uh,” “um,” and “er.” When I used to teach a speech class, I would count the number of “ums” a student would use during his seven minute speech, and at the end of his presentation told him the number of “fillers” he used and how it was most distracting. Additionally, if you are writing a letter to a CEO of a company, use spell check and find a friend or relative to proofread your letter for grammar and content before sending it out. Professionalism does count, and it is guaranteed to help you achieve results.

photo credit: Daquella manera

3 Responses to “Complain constructively for better customer service”

  1. Roddy said:

    Dec 21, 11 at 8:46 am

    Very interesting points Cheryl. More often than not, we tend to “declare war” when we want to complain, and bite the head off the first person we speak to at that company. I agree that nothing can be properly solved in this manner, and that it will benefit both parties if civil behaviour was practised.

  2. Kate said:

    Feb 17, 12 at 9:11 pm

    Dear Cheryl,

    Very interesting perspective. I personally experienced better outcomes when I voiced my unhappiness in more constructive & professional manner. It gives credit ability to the story. Sometimes some rogue vendors do take advantage of civil customers. Nonetheless I am still in favor of customers taking a more open minded & understanding approach when complaining. After all who doesn’t make mistake and very often it is the systemic constraint than personal issue of the service agent that cause the grievance.

  3. Percy said:

    Oct 09, 12 at 4:27 pm

    Incredible points. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.

    Percy