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Maybe it’s the British in me, i don’t like to complain, not in an official capacity anyway, I’ve worked on enough help desks and done enough customer care courses over the years to know those trigger words and phrases like the repetitive “Im sorry” and “I understand” that complaining just winds me up more. However in this world where staff cuts have made mistakes happen more and more we are in more need of learning how to complain effectively.
We seem to think especially with large companies there is no point complaining, we just go unheard and nothing gets done, well even the biggest companies will respond if you complain the right way.
These are six steps to complaining more effectively in this modern web connected age
The person who you are in communication with is just doing their underpaid job, they have a family too, they are human, they too have feelings and thoughts. they may well agree with you most of the time but they can’t say that as they are a representative of the company in this situation.
The person you are in communication with has a process to follow, this is a process which they should be allowed to follow and complaining at full throttle from the get go isn’t going to get you anywhere. People who complain loudly at everything and moan all the time get put to the bottom of the pile. The unreasonable around us are the one’s no one wants to deal with and will choose to ignore or get rid of as quickly as possible.
No matter how aggrieved, upset, hard done by you feel let the person do their job, ask for a time frame, agree a time frame, understand what they are going to do, and potentially how they are going to get back in touch with you.
Once the round rules have been set, the actions are defined, the timescales have been issued, let the person do their job. there is nothing worse than telling someone this will take 5 days to happen and day 2 someone is screaming at you that nothing has happened, again, you get put to the bottom of the pile. A degree of patience now has to happen at your end.
A decent customer care department will provided regular updates, let you know what is happening, or just that they have not forgotten about you. Most won’t do this. Stick to the agreed time scale and add a day..
This is more important than you think. When dealing with companies do as much of your communication over email as you possibly can. There is a temptation to call up and go hell for leather at customer care, do no do this. If the customer care want to call you do not do this. Having all, or as much of your communication in writing provides you with an accurate time scale and audit of all your communications. Head the communications with any reference number either for the initial transaction/incident or a reference number if provided one for the incident. and include the date of the mail and time in the subject line.
If you have to escalate this to a third party later you will have a written audit of all communications, what each party has promised and most importantly if like me you are highly strung. Being on the phone the brain can’t keep up with the mouth, the wrong words come out and you end up issuing a potentially upsetting stream of words which offend the person on the other end of the phone.
Putting things down on paper allows you to do so in a clear, concise, direct format. Always be clear and i would recommend three sections:
Don’t use 600 words where 6 will do, in fact think of each section as a 140 word tweet. Short, to the point, and simple English. The person you are communicating with may not be a first language English speaker.
Keep all the communication both ways in Evernote, create a folder, tag the items and save them in there, that way they are saved off your PC and on a backed up service. they are automatically put in date order, pdf attachements become searchable and you have all this stuff in a single place.
If you really must call the helpdesk to get further with a complaint, use a system like skype which you can with additional software record the calls.
Declare you are recording the call immediately, and have the person say back to you that they are ok with you recording the call and are aware this is happening. This covers you if this does go legal and you end up in court of having ensured the person knows they are being recorded.
It also puts a mental note into the customer support reps mind that they will have to action anything they need to after the call.
Save these recorded calls to Evernote as well. Tag them, and save them in the same notebook as the emails.
If the problem, like a recent issue i had over a financial transaction which took 3 months to resolve goes on and on, mail the CEO of the company and c the person you have been dealing with. Explain politely with reference numbers why, when, who, what and where of the complaint and that the person you’ve been dealing with has done their best. (remember they have lives too, and are only the agent here not the company).
Do not expect a reply back from the CEO, this person is busy, they will have someone vetting their mails in a larger company, and will probably forward this to the head of Customer Service. However nothing gets people moving like a mail from the CEO..
There are plenty of places online to get CEO email addresses http://www.ceoemail.com/ is a personal favorite.
Send that mail to the CEO from as many legitimate mail addresses as you have, your spouse, friends if they will. Hammer those mails in.. The CEO won’t deal with them, however multiple mails going in from different sources are going to get noticed.
At the same time you mail the CEO, you need to start finding the people who regulate the service you have a problem with, Ofcom, Financial Ombudsman and find out how to raise the complaint with them. Let the CEO know you are doing this.. They may not of heard about you or your issue, but i’m willing to bet they know the NGO or Government department which regulates them.
If none of this works hit the social media sites hard, i recently wrote a bash script to send out tweets all night describing what a company didn’t do and how bad they were and trended higher than apple for a few minutes. Facebook friends get them if you can you mail in, spread the word on Google+ find other sites which have complained. put the letter to the CEO up on them, use has tages on Twitter and G+, go to reddit, be honest, be concise, use facts. repeat, repeat, repeat…
No company likes bad marketing and there are plenty of forums out there to vent on.. Use them all.
Some rules to remember
If/when you get your complaint dealt with, even if you never use that company again, mail them and say thank you. Not sarcastically, just thank them for dealing with the issue. Do the same if you have a complaint and someone does deal with it, it is just as important to tell their manager tand the CET they are doing a good job as it is to complain about something. Let the CEO know who it was that sorted out your complaint and you are now happy.