What To Do When You Receive Bad Customer Service
Most people have worked in the customer service industry at one point or another in their lives. Some thrive on doing a job well and making the customer happy, while others simply do their job to get by and couldn't really be bothered with how the customer feels.
My first job straight out of high school was working as a Counter Server at a Frozen Yoghurt store in the mall. My job consisted of preparing the machines (washing them took an hour and a half), making up the yoghurt flavours for the day, preparing the toppings, counting the money in the till, keeping the shop clean and of course - serving customers.
The Customer is Always Right....Mostly
There were some great customers who came in, always with a pleasant word and a smile. I even got to meet a few celebrities during my time working there. Those were the good days.
Then, there were the not so good days. The days when I felt sick or sad, and the last thing I wanted to do was plaster a smile on my face, be cheerful to everyone who walked in and take it as the complaints came.
Oh, and how the complaints and difficult customers came in! From customers demanding the impossible (you try dipping the top of a frozen yoghurt cone into a sauce - it does NOT work), to some customer who's had a bad day and decides to take it out on you - causing a scene in the shop and making you feel like the stupidest person in the world, to little boys coming in with their friends to get a free frozen yoghurt because the one they were eating (3/4 finished already) had a "hair" in it!
You name it, I had to deal with it - all the while smiling and reminding myself that the customer is always right, and is paying my wages.
Over the years, working in different jobs - I've come to realize that the customer is NOT always right - but, that in order to succeed in your job and in business, you need to make them believe that they are.
So, what's changed - why do we feel the need to put up with bad customer service, and how do we deal with it?
Complaining - The Right Way
Having worked in the service industry, I have a certain level of expectation when I go out. My husband hates it when I complain about bad service, but I feel that it's my right if I'm a paying customer.
Here's how to complain if you feel you're receiving inappropriate or bad customer service:
- Confront the staff member directly. I don't mean to tell them to take their attitude and shove it, I mean to politely bring to their attention the fact that they are being rude, unhelpful or unfair.
- If this doesn't work, request to speak with their direct Manager and explain the situation. In most cases, the Manager will apologize and offer something as a means to rectify the situation and promise more training for his or her staff.
- In some cases, the Manager is unfortunately just as incompetent as their staff. If this happens, and you really feel that other people should know about the level of service the establishment offers - make it public. You can do this by going online and writing a summary of the events that took place and the staff that you dealt with. I use hellopeter.com. It's a great website for both customer service complaints as well as compliments for good service. If the company you are complaining about is listed, you should receive almost immediate feedback.
How do you deal with poor Customer Service?
It's important to realize that your complaint will cause a lot of bad publicity for the establishment. You need to be 100% sure of your facts, and have already tried both channels to make the complaint (points 1 and 2), before going online publicly.
What Is Bad Service?
Everyone has their off days, and sure - you can't expect everyone to have the same amount of energy and enthusiasm. But, you can expect good service with a smile. These are 10 examples of really bad service:
- The Depressed Cashier. You're the first one to greet, she barely even looks up at you and doesn't ask if you need a bag for your groceries. After paying she chucks your change on the counter, and you leave saying "thank you" while she's already ringing up the next customer's items.
- The Cocky Salesman. You're at work going about your day - trying to get your work done, when the phone rings. You pick it up only to be greeted by a very loud, slightly arrogant voice at the other end. It's someone trying to sell you insurance - great. You politely tell him you're busy and ask him to call back later. Does he do this? No. Instead, he proceeds to make you feel stupid for not being able to concentrate on what he's selling and that you'd be making the worst decision of your life for not choosing his insurance premium. There's selling, and then there's badgering.
- The Moody Hair Stylist. All you wanted was to get your hair done and have a bit of chit chat with your hair stylist - as you normally do. Only, today she's not in the mood. She ignores you, doesn't offer you coffee or magazines - and it seems as though she's trying to win some kind of record to getting your hair cut in the fastest time possible.
- The Disinterested Waiter.You're still waiting 10 minutes for a drinks menu after sitting down at your table. You eventually get your drinks, and later your food - all the while trying to perk up this sullen waiter with a smile and friendly word - this doesn't seem to work. When you've finished eating and can't wait to leave your waiter is nowhere to be found. You wait and wait for the bill, but it never comes. Maybe, he can read minds about the tip - or lack thereof.
- The Greedy Manager. The cashier has rung up your order, but overcharged you. You complain, but he say there's nothing they can do about it. You escalate the complaint to the Manager. He shrugs his shoulders and tells you that's the way it is and that you'd better pay.
- The Snotty Sales Lady. You walk into a nice looking boutique, only to be greeted by a pretentious looking Sales Lady. You're looked up and down, with anything but friendliness - and are either watched like a hawk, or ignored point blank when it's clear you're in desperate need of some assistance.
- The Shadow Sales Boys. All you want to do is take a stroll in the electronics store and check out the latest laptops. Instead, you're harassed from the moment you walk in the door. Your foot has literally just touched the entrance to the store - when you're greeted with "Hi! Can I help you?" Give me a chance to look around, will you! If that's not bad enough, you're followed around by this sales person and watched by all the other floor sales people. A little overeager for their sales commissions, are they?
- The Disinterested Pizza Guy. It's Friday night - time to celebrate the weekend with a pizza. You order, expecting your pizza in the usual 15 - 20 minutes. An hour later you're still waiting. So is an entire packed pizza store and the mood is not good. You can't leave because you've already paid. You complain but this doesn't help - the guy at the counter simply shrugs his shoulders and tells you that they're understaffed. So, why is this my problem?
- The Receptionist from Hell. Have you ever phoned a company only to be greeted by a very impatient, "Yes?" You ask to be put through to the right person, and get the response, "He's not in." You ask what time he's expected back. You receive the reply, "I don't know." Finally, realizing you're getting nowhere with this person you ask to leave a message. She makes a very obvious and loud sigh and you know the message is never going to be relayed. Who hired this woman?
- The Ice-Cold Nurse. After much putting off, you've finally forced yourself to go in for your annual gynae appointment. The nurse calls you - there's no hint of warmth at all. She wraps the blood pressure material around your arm and then proceeds to pump the life out of you. When she's done that she thrusts a cup in your hand and orders you to pee in it and leave it in the bathroom for her. Funny, I thought nurses were supposed to be caring and gentle.
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Melanie Chisnall is a freelance writer from Cape Town, South Africa.
Her first job out of high school was working in customer service at a Frozen Yoghurt shop. Since then she has worked in many other customer services industries including retail, IT and catering. She is a firm believer in providing excellent customer service, AND receiving it!