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.

The Complaining Cow logo, complaints, consultancy, speaker, workshops and more

Share this

Habits of an effective complainer – Tips 1, 2 and 3

Techniques to improve your complaining skills!

If you are not used to complaining, don’t like complaining, get fobbed off easily, but don’t like being out of pocket there are things you can do to help you improve your technique. Look out for the new book soon!

But in the meantime here are just three tips to start you off!

shapes images border

1)   Practice

Take on a few simple complaints to get you started. Do this for friends and family, as well as for yourself. Easy wins on these will give you the confidence to take on more complex cases.

People have often said to me that they have never complained about anything because they just don’t know where to start. Often this means that when a big problem comes, that they have to deal with, they really struggle. Had they have practiced and complained about the poor service in the restaurant or the kettle that didn’t last a reasonable length of time they would have a better idea and feel more confident too.

2)   Give compliments too

This may seem contradictory. But this will help keep things balanced for you. This will be especially helpful if you don’t ever do it but as are also poor at complaining when things go wrong. When a staff member has given over and above what could be considered acceptable good service, write to the company to recognise the person for their excellent work. It will make you feel good, is a bit of “pay it forward” and you’ll feel more justified when you write to complain.

This positive behaviour can prevent you complaining unnecessarily and being seen as negative. Today, whilst writing this post I thanked and complimented a bank for dealing my query effectively and efficiently. I did this on Twitter so people could see. I have quite a history with Tesco as many readers of this blog know! I complain regularly but also compliment where appropriate too. This also shows people you are fair and balanced with your observations.

3)   Be polite!

Often the people to whom you are complaining to are not responsible for the faulty product or poor service and are more likely to respond to you positively if you are polite to them.

Think about it. If someone is rude to you, do you want to help them? In a supermarket the other day, I saw someone being really rude to an assistant. He was shouting and then got abusive but the assistant was very polite and was trying to calm the situation down. The customer wanted a refund on something but didn’t have the proof required that he had bought the item there. She refused to leave until they gave it to her. The security man escorted him out, without his refund. Had he been more polite, the customer services assistant might have been able to offer to help by searching the loyalty card history. He wouldn’t listen though, so he lost out.

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo


For lots of help, consumer laws, advice and  templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Share this