Complaint or Challenge?
We are very fortunate at Maguire Training to have an outstanding team whose main objective is to provide the highest level of service we can muster for our clients. As a consequence of that we are proud to say that we rarely receive complaints about our service, which means (happily) that we have no need for a ‘customer complaint line’ as such. That is not to say that things don’t occasionally go wrong, because they do of course, however, if a mishap occurs then we try to view this as an opportunity to delight our client rather than it be a challenge.
Much easier said than done, I hear you scream. Well yes it is and even the best companies make mistakes and there are going to be times when a client will call and it won’t be good news. To mitigate and prevent this as much as possible, the objective is to try to be one step ahead of your client. Try and understand exactly what they want, need and expect from you, make it your mission to create a lasting relationship that will withstand the inevitable odd bump in the road.
In a conversation recently a colleague was asked, how might we ensure that we receive fewer or no complaints at all? Well not expecting any complaints at all is probably unrealistic, mainly because that kind of perfection is difficult to achieve when there are some many links in the chain where it could go wrong. Someone somewhere may ‘drop the ball’ and it’s not actually your fault, even though it could impact on your client. Also experience tells us that some people are just hardwired to never be satisfied and so will inevitably find something to ‘complain’ about no matter how good you are, and sometimes even if it is purported to be constructive feedback.
We continued the discussion to a point where it was worth jotting down one or two things that came out that we thought could help to reduce complaints and help you to view them as opportunities when they do arrive. Here’s a few things that came up.
Do everything you can to ensure that you are a customer-focussed business. What does this mean? Well, you may recall the old phrase ‘Customer is King’ which, although somewhat hackneyed, this still holds water today. It’s not actually that difficult to go the extra mile for your client and do more than is expected to solve their issue. A little effort can be exponential in the effect it has on goodwill and customer satisfaction.
Although there appears to be a new trend for suggesting that the customer is not always right, well as far as they are concerned, they are! So if you are able to field a complaint or grumble about your product or service (even if you think it is unfair or unjustified) and make your customer go away with a smile, then maybe you have achieved the impossible? In other words, your customer (in your view was wrong in whatever issue they brought to the table) but you have still managed to listen, empathise and solve their issue without actually telling them they were wrong.
Try and become more aware of what your customer is thinking and maybe ask them periodically, either formally through a survey, or anecdotally what they think of the service you provide. It is dangerous to assume that everyone thinks you’re great just because you don’t have a complaints file bursting at the seams.
If you could see the service you provide from your customer’s perspective, what would your assessment be? Would you be happy with how you are dealt with if you were in their shoes or would you be suggesting improvements all round? It’s worth considering looking in the mirror every now and then and putting yourself in their shoes.
One of the things that everyone thought was really important in our discussion was to try and personalise your communications as much as possible. In the modern world we seem to have shortcuts and templates for everything (or even Emojis) where companies lean towards sending out a letter of apology and it is quite clear that they have just filled in the blanks of a template. So if you have to write to a customer then at least make it a personal message, as though it has really come from someone who cares about their issue.
If you have ever been fobbed off with some or other story that is quite clearly made up, albeit plausible. I’m sure you will agree that there is no worse feeling when you have brought something that you are not happy about to the attention of a company and this is how they deal with it. Much better to be transparent and honest about what you can and can’t do. Saying “no” or “I’m sorry but we just can’t do that” is difficult but much more preferable than fudging the issue with excuses that may sound plausible on the face of it but which your customer invariably can see right through.
Everyone agreed that one of the biggest failings of al organisations when dealing with a complaint was the lack of follow up. You can be forgiven most things that are raised if you provide a clear, concise, transparent and honest answer (even if it isn’t what you want to hear). However, the last thing any of us want to hear is “I will ensure that this is done for you” and then literally nothing happens and you have to call that company back two days later to start the whole process again.
If you say you are going to call the customer back, then do it. The whole concept of going the extra mile is actually very simple when you consider this can achieved simply by doing what you say you are going to do. The rule is, under promise and over deliver, not the other way round.
Not only do we offer classroom based courses and programme at Maguire Training but we are also proud to offer a versatile and intuitive suite of over a hundred e-learning modules on our website which covers a range of sales and customer service topics.
Have a look at the on-line module ‘Customer Service Excellence’ which would be a perfect complement to the classroom based customer service courses we offer.
If you need further information then you could always call us of course on 0333 5777 144 for a no obligation discussion about your training requirements. Alternatively, simply hit the ‘Contact Us’ on any page of our website at www.maguiretraining.co.uk and we’ll get right back to you.
Either way it would be great to hear from you.