I've been going to a store for almost a year and a half now. I've never been satisfied with their service: there's never enough people available, it's slow, I have overheard staff be rude about customers, and swear - things that when I was working in the same job were unacceptable! But I've never said anything - let's face it, making complaints in person can be uncomfortable. But today, after another bad service experience, I just felt like I had to.
As a Quality professional, I deal with complaints all the time. So when I make them, I stick to facts, why something is an issue, and I always strive to be professional (even though it's in my personal life) and polite. Which is why I was so surprised when my complaint was met with disdain and disagreement. I just had to write this blog post about it, and what we can all do to make the complaints experience a positive one.
1. Firstly know that your body language means more than the words you say - the supervisor I spoke to today about my complaint continually raised his eyebrows and frowned. That to me says "I don't believe what you're saying, and I'm annoyed that you're saying it". Even if his words had been nice, I would have thought he was lying just to get rid of me. It sounds strange, but it pays to practice in the mirror how you'd respond to a complaint so you can see what your face is doing - it should be relaxed, open and signal to the complainant that you care about what they're saying.
2. Number 1 being said, you still have to say the right things - today I was told by this supervisor that he thought they provided good customer service. No other comment. But, I'm the customer! And he forgot that. In the end, your customer is the person that tells you if your service or organisation is on track. It's not easy to hear that they aren't satisfied, but it's important. What the supervisor should have said is "I'm sorry to hear you haven't had good service experiences here. What could we do to improve on that?" Saying sorry isn't saying "you're right" - it's acknowledging what your customer is feeling. Asking them how to improve turns a complaint into an improvement action, and makes the customer feel like you do care.
3. Thank you, thank you, thank you - no one likes to get a complaint; it's disappointing, especially when you think you've been doing great. When receiving an initial complaint, it's natural to want to defend your business / service - but it's not always the right time. The supervisor today was defensive, so I kept raising issues (nicely). If he had said the sorry sentence as per number 2, and then said "thank you", my complaint would have been left at one or two issues - instead of blowing out to five. And in the end, we should always thank our customers for their complaints - in human services, especially, it can be a brave act.
I know it's been said over and over, but complaints really are a useful tool to help organisations improve. Your customer is the reason why you exist - if they're not happy, don't you want to know? By following my tips above, you can turn the complaints experience into a positive one with a positive outcome - which leads to happy customers!
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!