Thursday, January 19, 2006

Complaining Effectively

customer service, complaints, personal relations

Recently I've been spending a lot of time talking about poor customer service and expressing the idea that it is important to complain when things are not as good as you'd like them to be.

Often we don't like to complain because it makes us look bad, or cranky, or it may produce an unpleasant situation that we'd rather avoid.

In business practice, it is often experienced that unsatisfied customers frequently don't complain, they simply stop doing business with the firm that gave them cause to complain. This creates quite a challenge for those businesses which sincerely want to improve, not only to redress the wrongs that they may have committed that have lost them customers, but also in winning new customers.

So, if you think your complaint, if it is something which a business can control, is not appreciated, think again. If you bring to the attention of the owners or management a fault which is costing them business, they may actually be delighted to receive your complaint.

HOW to Complain

Often, when you have a complaint, it is a situation which you find disturbing and you might actually be angry over something you've experienced. You want to strike out and hit someone. Of course, complaining under these conditions is likely to be unpleasant, but it doesn't need to be.

Try to cool yourself down before making a complaint and see if you can approach the situation in an objective frame of mind. Attempt to separate yourself from the situation so that you see what happened wasn't a deliberate personal attack against you, but rather an unfortunate event which you think the business will be happy to rectify, if you give them a chance.

Put yourself into the shoes of the person you a going to confront and see which approach would make you feel more cooperative:

  • "You guys are always trying to rip-off your customers with your shoddy service and inferior products. I'm not going to let you get away with this, I demand that you fix this NOW or I'm going to see that you suffer ..."

  • "I know that you probably didn't intend for this to happen, you seemed to me to be such a helpful and sincere person, but I've ended up with a problem that has left me unhappy with what I bought here yesterday and I'd really appreciate it if you would help me see how we can resolve the situation".

This, of course, is just an example, but the important point is the attitude which you display when you make your complaint known.

I know that I have often spoken or acted in ways which alienate others, so I don't consider myself a saint in this regard, but I do believe that even in some of the most horrible situations I've faced, there might have been better ways of doing them.

In this light, I would like to let you know about a newsletter I've been reading for quite awhile that has always provided me with helpful tips in dealing with people under difficult circumstances. It's called Winning Without Intimidation and it's available without any cost. If you check out the web site I think you will agree with me.

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