Monday, October 22, 2007

Complaint Department

Are you complaining or keeping mum?

I was wondering what kind of person you are. To what degree do you let things happen before you go up and start complaining?

The Poor Sod that gets to read my Letter
Personally it takes a lot to upset me to the point that I actually face somebody to confront them with my complaint. Come to think of it I cannot stand personal confrontation. So what I do is I sit down and put everything in writing. In my mother tongue this is easy. I will compose a letter in no time, hoping to somehow find the right balance between keeping the reader interested in my problem and complaining enough to get my point across. Now I am aware that the poor sod reading my letter of complaint is (in most cases) by no means the cause of my problem.

I love being acknowledged as a customer
I am good with this writing thing. A few months ago we had really shitty seats for a basketball game. The seats we had bought were in the most expensive section available but we couldn’t see a thing. I wrote a letter and voila they sent us four tickets for a Macy Gray concert. I am not someone to complain a lot. It takes a whole lot to get me mad enough to start complaining. I guess I want love, peace and harmony.

My husband's secret joy
The hubby on the other hand doesn’t take shit from anyone. He turns on his heel to confront someone the minute he realizes something’s not gone the way it is supposed to. In a way this is totally cool because he can do something I can’t. Most of the time I can’t even be arsed. Am I gonna go back to the cashier to complain that the orange juice was reduced by 10 cents? No. My husband on the other hand will set the record straight and will make himself heard.
I think 95 percent of store owners have a “Wanted – dead or alive” poster with my husband’s portrait in their office somewhere. Sometimes I am embarrassed, sometimes I feel satisfied that someone takes care of things. It is weird.

I know what it's like at the receiving end
Having worked in Customer Relations for quite a while I have come across a lot of complaints. Some of which were justified some of which were plain stupid. Others you just wanted to rip apart because they were written by demanding, greedy, impolite a*sholes. There is a thin line between love and hate they say. Even when an a*shole is right by claiming whatever it drives me nuts and I ended up not wanting to give them the dirt under my nails. Whereas I would have been much more open towards a claim that was brought forward with the facts straight and a polite manner. I am a sucker for politeness. Thus I always complain in writing. In a very polite and determined way. It gives me time to think and phrase what I want to say rather than screaming my head off and blurting things I know I am going to regret at a later stage. Plus I admit to being a chicken shit when it comes to confronting someone face to face.

Let me hear your opinion
How do you complain? Have your complaints ever gotten you somewhere or gotten you anything cool? In your opinion is it worth it to complain? Do you hope it will change something or do you just want to make yourself heard? I know that customer service in the US is quite different from customer service here in Germany but I was wondering if you ever got anything cool for complaining or if you have ever been treated like sh*** for complaining.


Melisa said...

The one time that I can think of right away where something went really wrong and we complained about it (there are probably many more instances; this is just the first that came into my brain!) was several years ago when my husband and I went with Julie and a couple of friends to see Jerry Seinfeld's act in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

We had seats about as high up in the theater as you could possibly get, and the theater was SO hot. I don't mean like, "Ooh, it's a bit warm and I'm a little sweaty": I mean it was so hot that we were dripping, parched, and even a little bit nauseated to the point that we were considering walking out, but of course the high price of the tickets combined with the fact that we just really wanted to see him and we thought the temperature might get better kept us sitting there in suffering silence.

I called the next day to complain AND I also wrote a letter to the theater, and I got...


I wasn't even looking for anything free; I was looking for an apology and an acknowledgment that they really screwed up when it came to the comfort of their patrons that night.

I think most of the time people really do just want to be heard and they're not looking for free stuff...but that always helps. :)

Of course, in my current blogpost I have just the opposite thing happenning: such a positive experience with customer service that I am making a GOOD phone call today, to acknowledge the person who went "above and beyond" to assist me. That's a much better situation to be in.


Kat said...

Melisa, I am so with you on that one. What I hate the most is when you don't get a response. I mean how much do you value your customers if you don't even care to respond. An I am sorry goes a long way there.

I read your post and also left a response. I think your post lady is a fine woman and deserves a praise. Glad you got to experience that.

Mags said...

Usually I'll just let things go, but if there is a complete disregard for the service I am recieving (Or not) I'll say something. Usually my voice gets shaky,and I explain using hard facts (like when I called down to the minute, who I spoke with and certain things they said and did) and that scares people.

I've never written a letter, though I wanted to, and I've only really yelled at someone once.

Robert said...

Great post! Like you, I have been on both sides of the fence, to speak. I have worked as a CSR, in person, and over the phone, and I have been (and still am!) a customer of many different companies.

Because of my experiences as a CSR, I know the limitations that agents have at times when trying to the customers problem fixed. I don't focus on the agent, or the company, I focus on the problem, and I focus on realistic solutions to the problem.

As a CSR, I've had customers request their entire order of $1,000 for free because we sent them yellow markers instead of pink markers. That is an unrealistic solution. However, a more realistic solution would be to let them keep the yellow markers, and send them free of charge the pink markers.

As a customer, I know the limitations that agents have, and the limited tools they have to work with. So far, most of all my problems have been resolved, and I didn't have to get upset, and I never really do get upset at the agent, rather at the situation. If you yell at a person, insult them, or are rude, then they are more apt not help you. On the other hand, if you remain calm and are respectful, they are likely to resolve your issue as quickly and efficiently as possible so NOT to upset you.

There was one instant where I did get very upset at the entire situation. It was because I was quoted one price, and then when the bill arrived, I had another price. When I called in to get it corrected, the agent not only wouldn't budget, but get repeating "sir, that is the price. sir, that is the price" and it was very annoying, so I demanded to be taken to the cancellation department. I didn't even want to speak to a supervisor, I wanted to cancel my service. Once I was transferred to the cancellation department, I started "over" and was extremely calm and respectful. I explained the problem, I explained my frustration, and I explained that my solution was to just cancel the service. This agent, however, didn't want me to cancel. So she gave me the entire full credit of $200 dollars, plus tax and late fees, and apologized. I've seen them been a customer of theirs for the past 3 1/2 years, having paid them a total of $3,360 dollars. So in this case, by giving me back my initial $200 dollars, they gained $3,360 dollars. A win/win for everyone.

I should also mention that I'm like Mags, that I sometimes let things go. Unless I feel that I was lied to, or taken advantage of, I really don't make a big deal. And I never, EVER, try to take advantage of the situation.

Danielle A. said...

I'm currently working as a CSR and am also on both sides of the fence. As a result, it gives me ammunition when I'm at a (insert local chain retailer here) and their "customer service" people are rude and don't care to listen to your complaint. Or anywhere that the person doesn't realize that the person they're dealing with is a customer. I was recently in an auto accident and just had some basic questions regarding getting the report for the dispatcher and she was just flat out rude. She cut me off numerous times and was short with me, and finally I said "Ma'am. I work in customer service and as a result I understand you probably hear these questions 10 times a day at least, but I don't know the answers yet and I'd appreciate it if I could get a full sentence out before you cut me off and use that short tone with me." It worked!!!

Either way, it drives me nuts as a CSR when a customer feels a sense of entitlement just because they're the customer. If there's anything I've learned in the 3 years I've been doing this - the customer IS NOT always right and it's up to me, the CSR, to kindly advise them when they're wrong. It actually ends up strengthening the customer-business relationship more than anything else.

Kat said...

Thank you everyone for your insightful words.I guess when you work as a CSR and have been on both sides of the fence you know how to get your point across. I now take extra time to tell people when I am satisfied with their work, product, company.. and it makes me smile to see their amazed faces. When something goes well we never stop to tell them what a good job they've done. I agree with all of you. Especially about the fact that the CSRs can only work with what the company allows them to work with. So no need to yell at them.

Kat said...
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