Three consumer pet hates and how to resolve them proactively. (1)

Customer service and complaint handling pet hates

Having been a consumer champion for a number of years, I have the ear of thousands of people who delight in telling me their pet hates with customer service and complaint handling.

How to address what your customers hate in your service

Today I’m going to start a series of posts about these frustrations and how they should be addressed, to improve service and therefore customer loyalty, company reputation and sales.

row of shops

1) Staff who don’t pay attention to the right things at the right time!

When customers are being served by customer service assistants, they don’t want to be ignored. Acknowledging they are even there at the till is a good start! I hear many times that it really annoys people that assistants are talking to each other when serving them, in so many different stores, shows the problem is widespread.

Of course it goes both ways, as I know some customers are downright rude when they remain on their phones as they approach the tills. But for those who aren’t it is just simple courtesy to say “Hello” or “Thank you” or “Good bye”. Even for people, such as myself, who do NOT want to engage in conversation with assistants, I do not expect to be ignored. It’s just a matter of basic manners.

What can you do to ensure staff pay attention?

When you recruit, test each candidate’s manners! For example are they saying “Please” and “Thank you” when they are offered them a glass of water? Whether someone has manners is usually demonstrated, rather than by the answer to a question. All is not lost though, simple manners can be taught! Or, at the very least, they can be expected as part of a staff member’s employment. Make it a condition of work that staff are attentive (but see point 2 below!) so that they are not talking to colleagues when they are serving customers. Some quick role plays, videos on expectations, information on the company, and part of ongoing monitoring by management.

Consumers customer service pet hates 1

 

2) Pouncing staff!

This is one my particular pet hates! Staff who ask if they can help as soon as a customer is through the door. I don’t know anyone who likes this. Even my mother, who will happily chat to anyone, doesn’t want to be pounced on as on as she walks through the door. Most people are there to browse. In stores where this happens, it is clearly a company policy where someone has told staff to do this, with no understanding of how it makes customers feel.

What can you do to stop pouncing on customers?

Stop the practice! If you are expecting your staff to ask someone if they can help, as they come through the door, just stop it! Instead, please train your staff to hold back and ascertain whether it looks like the person is looking for help, or is standing still looking around for something. If they are talking to their friend whilst walking around the shop casting their eyes over clothes, leave them alone! A good sales assistant can read people’s body language, understanding when people want help and when they don’t. These people are a great asset to your company. Test for this skill at recruitment and empower your staff to make the appropriate decisions for themselves.

Consumers' customer service pet hates 2

3) Staff who don’t answer the question!

Many times I have asked a simple question to a company in an email and not received an answer. Companies often think that all they have to do is give a refund. When a customer asks a question it is usually because they want to know the answer! Often this is so that they can be sure that the problem will not recur, for themselves or for others.

What can you do to make sure staff are answering the questions?

Answer the question! If someone asks you what you are going to do to make sure something doesn’t happen again when they use your service, give them the answer. Don’t just say “This is not our usual standard and we can assure you that it will not happen again”. That is NOT an assurance! Telling them what you are putting into place to improve the situation is what customers are looking for. This kind of response means that the customer knows you have listened and have correctly carried out the necessary change for improvement.

Consumers' customer service pet hates 3

If you are interested in working with Helen see Services for a variety of innovative customer-focussed solutions to your business needs. You can contact her with your own ideas too of course! Services.

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Customer service goes down, complaints are going up

Customer service is getting worse, according to the latest figures provided by The Institute of Customer Service (ICS). In figures released today, the ICS Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) has shown an decline for the fourth consecutive year. And by a significant amount too. 14.3% of consumers said that they experienced a problem with customer service. This represents a rise of 1.5% since last year’s figures.

The number of organisations failing to keep their promises or commitments alone has trebled in the last two years. At 17.2% this is the highest level ever.

The UKCSI is based on extensive in-depth research. Published twice a year, the latest figures includes 43,500 survey responses covering 240 brands across 13 sectors. Responses have been gathered from more than 10,000 consumers, answering an online questionnaire.

It will come as no surprise to consumers that the number who experience issues is at its highest recorded level ever.

One of the biggest bugbears with complaint handling cited by consumers, was companies that don’t keep their promises. Certainly I hear this a lot, along with being pushed from pillar to post, repeating oneself and not being able to complain using the format desired.

Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst and Founder of NBK Retail, agrees. She says:
“You need to be on top of your game. You need to save customers’ time or enhance it. But enhancing time goes beyond a few instore gyms or beauty bars, retailers need to give shoppers a very compelling reason to ditch their screens and come into the store.” Companies that are not keeping their promises are not saving customers’ time!

First Direct continues to hold its first place for customer service in the latest UKCSI. The top 10 organisations in the July 2019 UKCSI are:

1. first direct (which scored 86% satisfaction and is number 1 for emotional connection and customer ethos and ethics.)
2. Debenhams despite the problems. Interestingly I wrote about Debenhams and whether customer service could have prevented Debenhams decline.
3. Suzuki
4. John Lewis
5. Next
6. Amazon.co.uk
7. Ocado
8. Nationwide
9. Netflix
10. LV=

Institute of Customer Service – UKCSI July 2019 – icsmail

The Institute’s research evaluates companies based primarily on customer experience (such as getting things right first time) and customer ethos. In their view positive emotional connection and ethics can create a higher overall level of customer satisfaction.

Clearly businesses need to do more to improve their customer service and complaint handling if they want to survive. If they want to thrive they will need to do a lot more to respect customers and put matters right for them quickly and effectively. Every company makes mistakes, it is how they deal with them that matters.

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If you are a business wanting to improve customer service, complaint handling and sales, find out more here.

 

 

 

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

To ensure that you know your rights and how to use them take a look at How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! packed full of information, advice, guidance, consumer laws, tips and templates.