THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS WRONG

Banks Among The Worst At Blaming Customers When Things Go Wrong

The traditional mantra for successful businesses ‘the customer is always right’ is under threat, as UK businesses get tough with complaining customers, according to new research by alldayPA.

The survey, which questioned 1,000 members of the public, found that most (76%) had been frustrated with businesses refusing to apologise when things had gone wrong with a product or service.

Just under half (47%) had an even worse experience being told that problems were their fault when they tried to make what they consider to be legitimate complaints.

Holiday companies were found to be worst at dealing with customer complaints, with 31% of respondents saying they had experienced operators refusing to apologise, accept responsibility or help with problems.

These were closely followed by utility providers (such as power, telecoms and water companies) – with 26% of respondents reporting problems – banks (21%) and delivery companies (20%).

The telephone is still the preferred method to make a complaint, favoured by 70% of people surveyed, and bad telephone experiences often add to the frustrations of complaining customers.

68% of people had experienced problems with rude and unhelpful call handlers whilst 55% said that they had been frustrated with automated call menus when all they wanted to do was reach someone to speak with.

Sue Ratcliffe, spokesperson at alldayPA, said: “Understandably companies don’t want to accept blame for something that isn’t their fault, but it’s important to strike the right balance so that customers feel that you are listening and doing your best to help them.

“Key to this is training staff on how to deal with complaints, especially when customers are angry and needing to let off steam.  With many companies using websites and automated call menus to deal with many customer interactions, it seems the art of listening to complaints may be under threat.”

alldayPA which has answered over 85 million calls since 1999 on behalf of over 23,000 business clients.

Ratcliffe has the following advice for companies looking to improve how they handle complaints:

Acknowledge – Regardless of who is at fault -the company or its customer- an acknowledgement of a bad experience should always be made.”

Apologise – this doesn’t mean that your accepting faulting, but rather you’re acknowledging that your customer is unhappy.

Listen – listen to what the customer has to say, with as few interruptions as possible. If it is necessary to get clarification whilst the customer is speaking, explain to them that you’re just trying to ensure you have all the facts and that you’re not trying to prevent them from making their point.

Focus on the positive – what you can do, rather than what you can’t. Telling someone “that’s not my job” will only frustrate an upset a customer further.”

5 ‘don’ts’ when dealing with a complaint:

  1. Don’t blame the client, even if they are at fault
  2. Don’t interrupt, unless absolutely necessary
  3. Don’t bounce the client around departments
  4. Don’t baffle clients with jargon
  5. Don’t rise to client’s frustrations

5 ‘do’s’ when dealing with a complaint:

  1. Listen
  2. Empathise, without patronising
  3. Accept “ownership” of the issue – if there is a problem, see it through to its resolution
  4. Be clear in setting out what you will do next
  5. Treat your clients how you would expect to be treated

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