Customer service Aunt Sallys

A game of Aunt Sally from the 1911 edition of ...

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Dealing with problems

It has to be said that quite a few posts here are about customer service, good or bad.  I guess we tend not to talk too much about indifferent service. Only a few days ago I mentioned a certain hotel which I think could have done better. Obviously I know the name of the hotel and you don’t. That is because I have chosen not to tell you.

If we have a dispute with a provider about anything because we don’t think they delivered, it is better to take it up with them and to deal with it privately. Heaven knows, I have felt on occasion that I haven’t had value for money and I have spent thousands on business opportunities that subsequently I became unhappy about.

When this has sort of thing happens, we do have to take responsibility for our own actions. Did we do our research properly? Did we ask others who had paid out for the same thing what they got for their money? Have we really been misled or are we to blame for wasting our cash?

Should we go public?

It can be rather unpleasant to take into the public domain a private dispute with a provider who is alleged to have failed to deliver. There becomes a serious dilemma for the provider, who is usually bound by confidentiality or decent ethics to feel unable to respond in a public over what is essentially a private matter. It gets to be rather unfair even if we might think we have the high moral ground. There is a risk of ceding the moral ground by attacking the defenceless even if they are guilty.

Imagine if you were being attacked. You might think you had done nothing wrong. On the other hand something might have gone wrong. It does, sometimes, for the best of us. We might think we could resolve a complaint quickly. We try to. It’s harder to think properly about a problem, let alone resolve it happily when flak is flying all around us. Imagine being an Aunt Sally.

If we make a dispute public, it causes a disproportionate amount of unpleasantness. It is bad enough for large corporations if they are praised, because the detractors will be along and unhappy people make a lot more noise than happy people.

Last year, one of my favourite bloggers, Jim Connolly, praised Dell and said what good service he had had from them. I recall I commented that I had also. Since the initial posting and a lot of favourable comments, pretty much all the comments have been negative. That is because happy people get on with their lives and unhappy people congregate to complain. It is not a pretty sight.

Quiet discretion first

I think that if we have a problem with a supplier we should try to resolve it with them. Failing that we should take legal advice. We should not wash our dirty linen in public because it damages our own reputation as well as the supplier’s (or makes them look better), and others will sling dirt as well.

Look at both sides and talk nicely. Consider whether we bought sensibly in the first place. Try to resolve the matter quietly. Learn from the experience about ourselves as well as how we should deal with others.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

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