‘Inconvenienced, insulted, ignored…’
I was listening to ABC Radio late on Tuesday night (I heard that!) and caught the tail end of a conversation with Customer Service Expert Martin Grunstein, who was a guest on Tony Delroy’s Nightlife program. They were discussing customer complaints and how best to handle them and it caught my interest because only the night before I had watched (again!) ‘A Good Year’, one of my all-time favourite movies set in Provence, France. In the movie Marion Cotillard, in her role as the lovely but feisty restaurant owner, Fanny Chenal, says ‘In France, the customer is always wrong!’
The Nightlife program had many callers phoning in telling their tales of woe about their bad customer service experiences. For the most part, the experiences had left indelible marks on the callers who were never, ever going to deal with the offending companies ever again, and worse, were more than happy to spread the word. Only a few called to talk about the good experiences, which leads me to believe that, in truth, Fanny’s attitude, as opposed to Martin’s below, is more often than not the case when it comes to the way people tend to handle difficult situations at work.
I am no expert on the subject and I fully understand how demanding, unreasonable and frustrating customers, suppliers and sometimes even colleagues can be. A few key points bear remembering however. Mr Grunstein reminded us of some of them during the talkback session, and also does in his article ‘I’m not in the mood for your anger’.
After telling in great detail about his awful customer service experience at the hands of a reputable hotel chain, Martin says ‘If you are looking for a recipe for corporate bankruptcy I think INCONVENIENCED; INSULTED; IGNORED would be about as good as you could get’ and he then goes on to explain that ‘When a customer complains he (she/they) wants three things: They want to whinge without being interrupted; they want acknowledgement of their inconvenience; and they want to know what you can do, not what you can’t do.’
You can read the full article here, http://martingrunstein.com.au/article16.html, but in essence it’s all about demonstrating some empathy with the customer – and meaning it! And also not being afraid to apologise and make amends.
Just some food for thought.