A guest blog by Paul Keating of PKM Marketing Dragon
Everyone at some point has had to complain about a faulty product or a drop in service levels, although it is said in the UK we are not often seen as having a complaining culture.
There are many ways to view complaints as we shall read further on, but it’s important to examine a complaint from both sides to understand how best to deal with them.
How many times have you bought something from a shop, got it home and unwrapped it, and it either didn’t work or the item simply did not match the description? What did you about it? Did you box it up and put it away? Or did you take it back and demand a refund or replacement? How did the shop or organisation treat you when you took it back? You might have had an apology and without a quibble, the goods might have been replaced or your money refunded. That was you exercising your statutory rights.
On the other hand, you may have been faced with an inexperienced member of staff who did not assist you in the way you were expecting, after all; the customer is always right, true?
As customers we expect goods and services we purchase to work and meet our expectations first time without question. However this isn’t always the case and we are left to make a complaint. It is how our complaint is dealt with that makes up our perception of the organisation as a whole. More importantly, that very person who is dealing with our complaint, the ambassador of that organisation if you like, will be the one we judge. It will be their reaction and behaviour that changes how we feel about the whole establishment.
When we have occasion to complain, we need to feel our complaint is being treated seriously and that the outcome will be favourable. There is an expectation by most people that the complaint should be logged, that we will have a response within a set timeframe, and most importantly, that we are given regular updates until the complaint is resolved.
It’s very difficult for a copywriter to be on the receiving end of a complaint. It’s hard not to take complaints personally.
Coming from a police background and working with the public at a time when they felt the need to complain about lack of service and poor response, has given me a fresh viewpoint in dealing with complaints.
When someone is shouting, swearing and screaming at you to sort their problem out, I would challenge anyone not to slightly lose it and wobble off to the nearest pub if they haven’t had some sort of formal training in customer service.
Dealing with complaints is all about being able to communicate with people, to be able to listen objectively to a problem, and ensure you have all the facts possible to reach a successful resolution.
The following ten points are invaluable to help with this process:
Like many of the challenges in your copywriting career, managing any complaints is just another learning curve. While a complaint from a client might seem like the end of the world at the time, dealt with properly, it needn’t be a completely negative experience and might even strengthen your relationship.
Paul Keating has many years’ experience in complaints handling, most recently working for Bedfordshire Police Customer Services. Today, Paul owns and manages his own marketing and website design company, PKM Marketing Dragon.