Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Art of Complaining in 2018 - are you an Alpha Customer or a Roll Over?

Anyone who has complained about anything - and that's pretty much all of us - will know the frustration of being put on hold, having been made to wait for ages, and then being fobbed off without a resolution.

I'm currently out in Dallas and someone back in the UK didn't receive something I sent them just before I left - as this is on the way to being resolved I'm not naming any names here, but you'll all recognise the experience I'm sure.

I used a well known delivery service aggregator - who connects those who want something delivered with various delivery companies - to select my delivery method, which was a one day service with UPS.

I left for the US, and two days later I was told that my parcel didn't arrive,  although UPS stated on the tracking that it had been delivered.  I called UPS and the delivery service aggregator, many times.  This became extremely stressful as I was promised call-backs and response emails which never happened,  I was kept on hold for ages etc etc - you all know about this.  What made it all so much worse was that I was told a different story just about every time.

Yesterday afternoon I decided I'd had enough.  I sent a 'slightly stroppy' but fully factual email to the delivery aggregator asking for a manager to deal with the problem. 

I looked them up on Twitter, followed them and tweeted a couple of messages about lack of service.  I also went on LinkedIn and sent contact requests to everyone I could see who worked at this company at the top - no replies yet but I did get a result.

This morning I woke up to a message on Twitter and a resolution offer by email.  But having had to spend a whole week trying to get this sorted has been tough and demonstrated seriously bad customer service.  Now I have manager service, the manager's name and phone number and a promise of resolution.

So next time you want to complain do the following:

Know in advance that despite the adage 'the customer is always right' - most retailers and service providers of most products and services will try , unless you're buying, to get rid of you as fast as possible, and may well try to fob you off.  This is true of just about everyone I have dealt with with the exception of Amazon and John Lewis.

Document every phone call and every email where you have tried to get resolution.  Make sure you have all the facts, then demand - politely of course - to speak to a manager/supervisor.  These will want to get you off the phone as well, but they'll have the authority to do something and will recognise you as an 'alpha customer' - someone whose not just going to go away, rather than a roll over.  Roll overs rarely get to speak to managers because they don't  persist.

Go on Social Media, find the company you have a problem with, follow them and then send them a polite and public Tweet/message saying you have a problem and you're not getting resolution - obviously if you're not on social media this is going to be hard so get with it because it can be very useful.  Offline you're no one.  Online you're someone and far more likely to be heard.  No company wants their reputation tarnished online.

The most important part of all of this is to be an alpha customer, to insist on speaking to someone senior as fast as possible so you don't waste your time, to use social media to your advantage and be insistent of service.  In this day and age there's no reason not to be heard.

This may sound like a rather jaundiced review of customer service but I have had it happen to me far too often.  The dictate at the top may be to keep the customer happy, to turn one time customers into loyal advocates etc etc, but regularly down the line advocates are being turned into enemies by short sighted staff who just want to get on to the next call.  Maybe they want lunch.  Maybe they have a queue of calls waiting, maybe they got out of bed the wrong side.

Unfortunately the only thing that pays for you as the customer is to be persistent and make your voice heard.

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