Customer Service Challenges

I’ve had this post bouncing around in my head for a bit. I wasn’t sure if I should post it or not. But I think I will.

From time to time, a customer will contact me with a concern, challenge they’re facing, problem with a product or an order, etc. Some of these are cut-and-dried. Did I send the wrong thing? OK, I’ll send you the right thing. Is there some flaw with your product? Send it back and I’ll replace it and refund you shipping to me. Easy, right?

And some people are clearly just asking for suggestions. These types of emails usually start out with “Can you help me with this” or “I have a question” or “we’re having trouble with our prefolds” or whatever. I do the best I can to help out long-distance, suggesting nearly everything that comes to mind or asking more questions to try to determine what’s going on, etc.

But here’s the trouble spot. There’s a vast gray area in there. Emails where it seems evident from the language used that the customer is seeking reassurance, help, or suggestions, but what they really wanted was something else, like a refund or to return their item. Here’s where you, the customer, can really be helpful. If that’s what you want…say so! I cannot always do what you want, but when everyone communicates clearly, we can usually arrive at a compromise that satisfies everyone.

What prompted this was finding two different complaints about me online. It’s not that the complaints were not legitimate or truthful – both incidents happened exactly as described by the complainers. (One of them was from three years ago, one about a year ago.) But what got my blood pressure going was that I had no idea that either customer was dissatisfied with my responses to their inquiries. Both customers contacted me asking questions about their product, which I answered to the best of my ability. One was having fit problems, the other useage problems. Turns out, both had really wanted me to do something for them, but what it was they wanted remains a mystery – neither responded to my return emails.

So, please, if you want something from me that you’re not getting, it will only help things for you to come out and say what it is that you want. (This holds true for ALL complaints to businesses. If you’re dissatisfied with your hotel stay and decide to write to the manager, you’re much more likely to get resolution to your problem if you state clearly what you expect. Do you want an apology, or do you want your stay refunded? Pizza Hut delivers the wrong pizza and you call them – do you want them to drive you out a new pizza asap, or do you want a coupon for a free pizza in the future? Tell them, and you’re much more likely to get what you want. This is a basic of effective complaint-making.)

That doesn’t mean I’ll be able to give it to you, but at least we’ll both be able to discuss it fully without either of us having to guess at what might really be going on!

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About sarahtar

Our Family lives in central Iowa. We are Christians, conservatives, and crunchy granola heads. We love the outdoors, photography, and lindy hop. Turn ons are people who are polite, honesty, and really good root beer. Turn offs are mean people and people who make my life more difficult.

Posted on November 13, 2008, in Business. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is very well said and I think it’s true for all dissatisfactions, not just business related ones but work and personal dissatisfactions as well.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. Honesty is always best. Passivity and waiting for others to read our minds is not usually effective.

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