Most versions of corporate customer service sucks. Too often the 'Complainant' it is served a liberal dose of lip service from 'The Company', who's only aim is to defuse emotion and end the interaction. The Complainant leaves the interaction feeling like their issue has been heard but not acted upon. Here is a better way.
Alan Weiss put together a short blog post that compares the crux of this problem, and it was too good not to share (you can read the original post by clicking here).
Complaints: How The Company Wants It Handled...
The following four phrases won't be new to you. These magic sentences are served up everyday by The Company to Complainants. When you read them now you may not notice them to be particularly troubling, but it's what is not being said that is the issue.
Each sentence sounds like The Company empathises with the emotions felt by the Complainant, but refuses to acknowledge The Company may have played a part in the problem, and doesn't look offer any action to reach a favourable resolution.
Phrase 1: I know how frustrated you must feel.
Phrase 2: This must be very difficult for you.
Phrase 3: I’ve experienced this in my dealings with companies myself.
Phrase 4: I don’t blame you for being so upset.
I was served these very responses from David Jones as we attempted to finalise our wedding gift registry - it is a triple disappointment.
Firstly, we endured a bad experience - no harm done, we aren't monsters.
Secondly, we gave The Company a chance to right the wrong, but they over promise, over empathise and under deliver (read: do nothing)
Thirdly, we realise no actions to resolve this has been taken, we needed to contact them again, listen to the same phrases again and have another attempt are resolving this. Needless to say, I haven't recommended the David Jones Gift Registry to anyone.
Complainants: How The Complainant Wants It Handled...
The Complainant is not contacting the company for a telephonic-backrub, or a pity-party. The Complainant wants to use the product/service and get on with their day. Imagine the confidence the Complainant would have that a resolution is just around the corner if The Company responded with the following:
Phrase 1: Let me see how I can immediately help you and correct this.
Phrase 2: What would make you happy right now and demonstrate that we want to help?
Phrase 3: Would it be acceptable if we sent a replacement to arrive in 48 hours?
Phrase 4: I can process a refund immediately if you prefer.
The situation would be immediately defused and well on its way to resolution. The Complainant will have aired their grievance and feel like reasonable steps are in place to achieve a mutually agreed result. This simple approach is the perfect process for turning an adversary into an advocate.
Now all that is to be done is for The Company to do is follow through on the promises (it would have been that easy David Jones...).