Handling complaints is a basic function of customer service and yet the vast majority of businesses are rubbish at it.
In a perfect world there would be no complaints but, the last time I looked, this isn’t a perfect world and, from time to time, things go wrong. It’s not things going wrong that’s the problem. We can all accept that and as long as they don’t go wrong too often we’ll forgive and forget.
No, it’s the way things are handled when they do go wrong that causes problems in the client/supplier relationship.
Here’s the scenario that happened to my wife that’s caused this latest rant at the customer service providers of this fair land of ours…
My mother-in-law recently purchased a new garden shed in the full (and, as it happened, accurate) expectation that I would put it up for her. My wife arranged for the shed to be delivered last Thursday and, true to form the delivery company could specify the exact time it was scheduled (or is that sheduled… sorry, couldn’t resist it!) to arrive – it was going to be between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
So we waited in on Thursday.
I think you can see where this is going… no shed and no ‘phone call. In fact, the guy who had kindly left his mobile in case of any issues had even more kindly switched his ‘phone off so my wife couldn’t explain in full and frank terms what she thought of him!
The next morning my wife rang the retailer to explain the situation. Guess what they said. Yep, you’re quite right: “it’s nothing to do with us.” My wife asked what she should do about the situation and the advice given was: “wait for a call from the courier company”.
This, of course, was the same courier company who had failed to turn up the day before and had switched off their ‘phones. Hmmm… Quite rightly my wife wasn’t going to accept that and explained her position in a refreshingly frank way to the operative.
At this point the operative said, almost in as many words, that it wasn’t her problem and that my wife should do as she saw fit.
As it happened, my wife saw fit to escalate the complaint and involve a supervisor, the supervisor’s manager and their boss, too.
How much did this cost the company in question?
How many times will we now use this example in our customer service training?
This situation was entirely avoidable and everyone’s stress levels could have been kept to an absolute minimum very easily.
All it would take is some training. It doesn’t take long. All the operative had to say was: “I’m very sorry that’s happened. I can’t deal with it from here but let me give you the courier company’s direct line…”
It’s not hard.
But actually the hardest thing is to instil the right attitude in staff. In this case it just hasn’t happened. Some investment would save a huge amount of money, though.