“Please formulate your complaint properly”

FrodX / / Sales

Our last blogposts on bad customer experience didn’t result in companies that wish to improve their customer experience contacting us even though that was our intention. Just the opposite – we’ve received many examples of bad experiences. However, we’re not really focusing on collecting negative customer experiences, since our main intention is to transform the marketing, sales and product development departments within companies to help them build a customer oriented strategy. Still, one of the stories we received was well worth sharing.

When a complaint is handled by a “complaint committee”

Before I continue, I would like to remind you that we’ve already talked about marketing problems of banks and similar providers. In an industry with virtually identical products (one bank transaction isn’t better or worse than another), you can fight your competition in two ways. Introduce discounts, which can lower your profits, or provide an excellent user experience. Acquiring new customers is a big problem, but on the other hand any bank can easily keep its existing customers if it doesn’t raise its prices too much or if it’s not too rude to its customers.

Solving complaints requires common sense, not a complaint committee. Click To Tweet

What can a stable entrepreneur expect from a bank a couple of months after they convinced him to switch to a personal banker which should provide better services than regular branch employees? What can he expect after calling and emailing this banker for two months (!) trying to get information about a loan, and sending a slightly upset email regarding the situation? The main issue in the complaint was the customer experience level, since the unresponsiveness and curtness of the personal banker gave him a feeling that he is not important, which is something we don’t even expect from government bureaucrats nowadays. The purpose of the email was reaching out for an apology and help, yet he received an answer which could only be expected from a courthouse.

What went wrong?

Not much, actually. They just failed at reading comprehension. I read the customer’s complaint explaining everything that happened (or better said didn’t happen) in the last couple of months and asking them what they intend to do about it, and I can safely conclude that the customer wasn’t thinking about forwarding the issue to a “complaint committee”.

Solving customer complaints isn’t too difficult if common sense is used. It basically involves three steps:

  1. Carefully listen to your customers’ problems.
  2. Solve their problems immediately and without excuses.
  3. Try to learn whether the customers are satisfied and if they need anything else.

Nothing too complex. Just some common sense.

Complaints should be solved by autonomous employees

I know this is easier in smaller, agile companies, but this shouldn’t be an excuse for large companies to communicate with their customers in a way that shows that they don’t care for their problems. Just the opposite – they should work even harder and provide autonomy to their employees that enables and empowers them to provide responses with a touch of humanity. Seth Godin recently wondered what kind of competitive advantage would a company gain if they dedicated 2000 USD to every employee for immediately solving the problems and complaints of customers – without approval from the bosses and bureaucracy. An interesting theory, but great changes can often be achieved without such an investment.

Every employee should have the autonomy to solve customer complaints by themselves. Click To Tweet

How did the correspondence with the bank end? With a phone call, after the customer answered that he would not comment their response and threatened to immediately switch banks. The problem was immediately solved and they were incredibly helpful – which is something they should have done from the start. I sincerely hope that next time they will leave out the unnecessary intermediate step.

Just some food for thought: is your approach to solving customer problems based on common sense?

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