Embracing customer complaints

etsy, pop up, customer, shop, serviceBelieve it or not, a customer who complains is a retailer’s best friend. It is those who don’t complain, but simply vote with their feet, who are your worst enemies, because you have lost them forever without even having the direct chance to win them back.

So when you have the opportunity to deal with a dissatisfied customer, you have struck gold. What you don’t want to do is annoy the customer further.  They are already irritated, and you have one shot to make things good, failing which they will walk and spread a lot of bad vibes.

Of course, the real issue with customer complaints is to resolve them quickly.  The worst scenario is to drag them out – and even worse is to involve a number of staff in attempting to resolve the issue.

In the context of a recent service outage and subsequent customer service debacle I had with Telstra, a typical bad example is as follows:

Technician number one: Your full name, date of birth, address, phone number and reason for the call. With regret, not his/her department – will transfer you and brief the next technician.  Just in case, xxxxxxx is the right number to call.

Technician number two:  Your full name, date of birth, address, phone number and reason for the call. With regret, not his/her department – will transfer you and brief the next technician.  Just in case, xxxxxxxx is the right number to call.

Technicians numbers three through five et al. And ditto, as above.

The customer technique to deal with a situation such as this, is quite simple.

“No, I will not provide my name, date of birth, address, phone number and reason for the call again because I have just provided this to Telstra when I spoke to the previous technician.”

“No, I will not phone another department. My expectation is that Telstra will communicate internally to spare me having to repeat myself.”

And then a war of attrition. Polite, but dogged. Eventually the CRM program cannot cope with the unusual alternatives and capitulates.

Every retailer should not take a leaf out of Telstra’s book. They have trained their staff to be polite and helpful.  Just one small oversight – customers find it almost impossible to get any satisfaction whatsoever. The result is customers move on and/or end up in an altercation.

Do not take customer complaints seriously and you are on a slippery slope in one direction – and it is not up.

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing www.impactretailing.com.au and can be contacted at stuart@impactretailing.com.au or 0414 631 702.

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