Business Good customer service Laws

High standards or just acceptable customer service?

It is important to have high standards for customer service wherever you shop and whatever you are buying. In this article we’ll discuss briefly high standards, exceeding your expectations and your basic legal entitlements.

Good customer service is what you should be paying for. Anything below this is not acceptable. This is also the case when you are buying a product. The cost of the product includes the costs of the whole transaction process. Knowing what is acceptable and what exceeds good service will help you know when to complain and when to praise.

When I asked on my Facebook page for examples of excellent service, the results were interesting. For example, Paul said that he had ordered some chocolate Easter eggs and they had arrived broken. He had been impressed by the retailer sending out replacements and letting him keep the broken chocolate. I wasn’t impressed! This was the minimum they should have done, as they would have had to pay for the return. And what would they have done with it had he returned it anyway?!

Personally, I do not see this as a high standard of customer service, I see it as just acceptable. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, Paul was entitled to goods free from defects and of satisfactory quality. Within 30 days of purchase he was entitled to a full refund. It would be up to the company whether they paid for the return or let him keep it. Telling him to return it would have cost them money and been pretty stupid, as they wouldn’t be able to resell it!

Excellent service would have been if the company had sent him a gift with the replacement.

Doing more than the legal minimum when you receive a complaint


When the retailer pays for return postage on a faulty item, that is the legal minimum requirement and is therefore not an example of “good service”. Good would be the company being very apologetic, treating you as an individual and speedily sending you a replacement or refund.

For the retailer to contact the courier who hasn’t delivered the item you paid for is the legal requirement, it’s certainly not “over and above”. If the retailer tells you to contact the courier, when your contract is with the retailer, would be bad service.

This may sound harsh or ungrateful or that there is an unnecessary sense of entitlement but it really isn’t. So many businesses try and fob consumers off (see 7 Common fob offs that companies use to not give refunds!) that when they get the correct response they feel it’s really good. It isn’t, it’s that the other responses are poor!

I recently complained to Tesco that an item was missing in my delivery. I had made a mistake. Being honest I told them that I had actually received the item and they then said that I could keep the item. That’s pretty good service. It helps with goodwill.

Here’s a good example of really touching service:

Butternut box sent blanket for dog no longer able to have their food as not long left to live


“Acceptable” service would have been to just acknowledge the change, “good” would have been to have shown some empathy, “excellent” is how they performed in this case.

In my article How to exceed customer expectations and why you should do it I provide some examples for businesses of what I believe is exceptionally good service. The example of the hotel upgrading us to a better room for free and then to the best room in the place. That’s really exceptional. I had not complained, , it was just pure niceness!

People remember how they were made to feel, so if you feel that you received something that someone else hasn’t, then you are nearer receiving “over and above” service.

And if you’re a consumer… make sure you know your legal rights!

Help with your complaints

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


And if you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!



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101 Habits of an Effective Complainer provides you with more tips like the one in this post




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Purchase downloadable templates to gain that redress simply and swiftly

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

Want to do the right thing for your customers and get them coming back time and time again? Here are some resources.

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

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By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

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