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complaints

Answering complaints

I have been on the receiving end of poor business service recently – and it really is not pleasant.

Losing my business should be unpleasant for that supplier, too, as it means I no longer refer clients there.

Not delivering as promised has had a huge impact on my client – that put the supplier in a bad light, of course. And needing to make multiple requests to find a revised delivery date became very annoying very quickly.

But what has really made me turn my back on that supplier is how they handled these delays.

Dealing with complaints and problems

In life, sometimes things go wrong and promises aren’t kept.

Angry man about to hammer a piggy bank.

Do you want your customer to be this angry? It could cost you a lot more than coins in a piggy bank if you don’t try to resolve their concerns.

When your business can’t deliver, though, you have two basic options. Be honest and apologise to the customer, or ignore it and pretend there is no problem.

Guess which option the above supplier chose…

I was given an excuse the first time I complained. The second time I was told ‘I can’t see any record of you calling on Monday’. And it still took a week for the sales person to respond to those messages. And more days before she gave me a revised date.

Every contact from the sales person had a little ‘sorry for the delay :(‘ message and ‘I look forward to hearing back from you again’ but generally ignored most of what I wrote in my formal complaint. I did not feel she was taking my concerns seriously nor that she was particularly interested in helping me get my order fulfilled.

The end result being that I am working with my bank to get a full refund and I will not use this supplier again.

Positive responses to complaints

To learn from my ex-supplier’s example, here are things they could have done to improve the situation – even if the delivery was delayed by more than two weeks.

  1. Ideally, they could have contacted me with an expected delivery time when I first placed the order – especially if they knew they were busy and couldn’t make the promised times on their website. And especially as I had requested this in my original order…
  2. As soon as I made contact about the delivery not reaching me as expected I should have received contact from the sales person. A quick ‘sorry for the delay – let me look into what is happening and get back to you’ would have been better than silence as I would have felt they were interested in serving customers
  3. After multiple contacts from an unhappy customer, they could have tried to help me get my delivery and feel better about them. Whether that was regular follow ups, a discount, a bonus offer or something else doesn’t matter – the lack of that meant the problem is what I associate with their brand now.
  4. The sales person could have actually answered my concerns in her email – and probably could have left out sad faces, frankly. I’ll give some examples of that in a separate post next week.
  5. Acknowledged my frustration and let me feel heard. For instance, instead of telling me they hadn’t recorded my first call they could have said ‘sorry – we should have answered you by now.’
  6. When they told me ‘I’ll get back to you soon’, they should have contacted me rather than wait for my next complaint. Again, it would have been much better to have kept their word by contacting me and letting me know what was happening (even if it was limited information) than let me wait and lose any confidence in their business.

Do you deal with complaints?

Have you ever thought about how you respond to complaints from customers?

It can be confronting to admit you’ve done something wrong (or less than ideal anyway) and may be tempting to hide from it, but you can turn things around if you deal with a complaint well. Or at least minimise the damage.

Preparing an attitude and perhaps a procedure ahead of time may help your business do better with complaints than my ex-supplier. I hope you do a lot better, in fact!

* Image courtesy of Kozzi

Hiding email addresses leaves a sour taste

Do you think email addresses should be hidden or open to your clients or members?

email symbol shwoing call us, write to us, but don't email us!

A business making it hard for customers to email them just doesn’t make much business sense to me. Yet that’s exactly what one organisation is doing to their members…

Today, I received an email from an organisation I’m a member of. {Disclaimer – I am only a member there because I haven’t made the time to move elsewhere – that time is now a high priority.}

Replying to emails

I did not like today’s email – I mean it was laid out ok and was polite and appropriate as far as the wording went, but I am not happy with the content. Largely because it showed that organisation is using member money to fund something completely unrelated, public and providing no obvious benefit to members.

I hit reply to tell them what I think. I doubt my voice will make a huge difference but I would feel better to be honest about it.

However, the email comes from a no-reply address.

Instead, I went to their website to grab their email address to use instead, but they only have an online form. So I even went as far as checking some letters they’ve sent me in the past – also the contact form URL instead of an email address.

So I can’t reply to the email.

And I am left feeling they are hiding from members. Feeling they are hiding from complaints. Feeling a bit uncomfortable and like I’ve touched something dirty with the way they are keeping contact details secret.

Selective email address use

Spam is awful – I hate it. So like many others I avoid putting my email address online in a way that spam bots can find it.

Yet that doesn’t mean my email address is hidden completely.

It is on my business cards, letterhead and certainly is the ‘reply to’ address for my html newsletter.

Other organisations put their email address on their site as a graphic – bots being unable to read graphics (well, so far anyway!) – or in words (eg write AT wordconstructionsDOTcomDOTau is an acceptable way for me to share my email address online.)

And it’s not like I’m talking about a small organisation that can’t cope with emails – a sole trader or other SMB may need to manage contact options, but a big business has more staff and even dedicated staff for customer service.

Is limited promotion the same as hiding?

What do you think?

Are they protecting themselves from spam or from complaints? Are they hiding their email address, even from members, or is it a reasonable business decision?

And I’d love to hear what you have done to promote or hide your email address, too.