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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Smart Car not smart enough for this Cow! Gaining redress for faulty new car)

Mooooooooving on

Last year this mob annoyed me. Why? Because they annoyed my mother. You know how it is, it’s bad enough when someone annoys you but when they start on your family, well that’s it isn’t it really? So, after listening to my mother moan about it for ten minutes (so therefore two minutes too long, you know how it is) I told her to give me the details in an email and I would deal with it. I knew this was going to be a hard one. Cars are a difficult one, it’s very hard to prove faults and well, it’s hard! But I’m The Complaining Cow, so I complained.

Earlier that year she had bought a Smart car. A couple of months later my brother noticed that the front near side tyre was flat. (The car hadn’t been driven for a while because my father had been seriously ill). She therefore called Smart Assistance who sent someone out for recovery. A garage repaired what appeared to have been a slow puncture. The repair had cost £12.00.

A couple of months later my mother went to drive the car and the battery (original battery) was flat. Again, she telephoned Smart Assistance. The battery was put on charge and she was told that everything was fine and to leave the engine running for 20 minutes. She then went out in the car to a local garden centre. She went back to her parked car after three quarters of an hour to find the battery flat. She ‘phoned Smart Assistance once again who again sent out a recovery vehicle. The man said luckily he had a smart battery that was suitable in the van. So he replaced the battery and charged her £53.00. (I know, disgraceful huh?) She then telephoned Mercedes Taunton and explained what had happened and asked if it was under the warranty I don’t much care much for warranties. I prefer the Law. My mother was entitled to a full refund as the car was sold as satisfactory and in good running order. It was not. I believed that Mercedes was therefore in breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1994 again so a full refund is what she would get! Now you would need to quote The Consumer Rights Act 2015 for purchases made prior to 01 October 2015.

Later they phoned back to say that Head Office, as a goodwill gesture would give her back half of the amount, they refunded £26.50.

Since then the car had been running well until a month later. My mother drove the car 6 days previously, but then the battery was flat. She ‘phoned Smart Assistance yet again. (Oh poo, only just realised that I should have been claiming for ‘phone calls!) He found the battery to be faulty. He tested everything including the alternator etc. He said she would have to take the car back to Exeter which was ridiculous. (It’s about an hour away from Taunton). He then drove her to Mercedes Taunton after charging the battery. She spoke to someone and they said they’d call the following day. They didn’t and she had to ‘phone them. I know, dreadful! Anyway, she was told that there had been a problem and that the battery was not only faulty but their suppliers had sent a wrong battery to replace it, and could she should ‘phone the following day.

My mother was told that they hoped the right battery would be in by Monday 21st and that it would cost her £147.00 and she could come and pick the car up.No smart customer service at Smart car!

It was at this point I stuck my hooves in….

So I complained. A lot. I didn’t want her to:

  1. have to go and get the car,
  2. pay for the puncture repair,
  3. pay for the faulty battery,

pay for the new battery and I wanted her to be refunded fully for the first one, oh and something for the inconvenience of course!

We wanted to return the vehicle for a full refund. I knew this was never going to happen, but here’s a tip, always always go for more than you want. That way they can come down thinking they have won something and you get what you want!

The Manager offered to return the car when the battery was done at just the cost she had had refunded! i.e. she would still have to pay the full cost of the battery! So she would, in effect have a new battery which I didn’t think she should have needed and be out of pocket by £53.00. I thought this wasn’t good enough personally.

So, off went an email to the MD pointing out a few legal facts, quotes from their publicity and the like. Few more emails backwards and forwards. He seemed to think that we had no grounds for returning the car and couldn’t prove anything regarding the car being faulty at time of purchase. However, I am pleased to say that my powers of persuasion convinced him to pay:

£12 puncture repair refund
£53.00 battery refund
£100 goodwill gesture (I do so love these goodwill gestures)
(She had the £26.50 on top of this already paid by the other people!)

Evaluation

It took a while but I refuse to accept the first response if I don’t like it! I was particularly pleased that garages in Taunton were impressed saying that Mercedez are notoriously bad with their customer service!

Customer Service 4 out of 10
MD 7 out of 10
Prize £191.50 plus a battery

Rating – Churned out ok eventually

If you find yourself in a similar situation and need some help. See Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively 
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