What can you do when you cop bad customer service?

There really is nothing worse than dealing with bad customer service.

Have you ever had one of those days where you have had a pretty great start until you make the seemingly stupid decision to shop somewhere you are clearly not wanted at lunch time?

Where you wake up to an early start and begin the day feeling energised and happy and are being uber productive and then someone really takes the fire hose to your good mood for reasons you cannot fathom?

When even a polite questioning about store policy or product warrant you being treated as though you’ve just announced you like eating puppies in front of small children at the local preschool at play lunch?

If you have, read on. What you may learn could very well save a shop assistant’s life (and you from assault charges) one day.

customer service - unashamedly creative
Photo: Mike Wilson

Most if not all consumers will tell their particular story about the happy and the downright mind exploding experiences we have with customer service. We also know that people are far more interested in retelling stories of the darker end of the rainbow for longer stretches of time. But what can we do that actually truly gets our message across to the point where it activates change in behaviour?

Don’t get mad, get realistic

Chances are the person in front of you (especially at a big store) doesn’t care about their job. Hell, they may not even like their job. If it is their attitude that bugs you, ask if you could be served by another person. If it is the policy of the company or store, ask to whom you need to direct a complaint or your questions to. Without being cross, these very simple, politely put questions will sometimes get you somewhere closer to a better experience.

Tell the company their customer service sucks

Nothing gets under the skin of marketing, PR or customer relations more than a well thought out, factually based letter or email that appeals for a solution to a broken policy or issues with bad customer service at a particular store.

Considering especially bigger companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing, in-store merchandising, and sales and customer service training, hearing from you that those efforts are wasted can help them revise their current practices or at the very least, resolve your problem.

And there is nothing wrong with letting your inner “Grandpa Simpson” out for a little wander across the keyboard for a little relief either.

Make a graceful dismount

Is it bad customer service, or is it you? it really is a fair question to ask because some people have taken the whole “the customer is always right” to really stupid levels.

Make sure it isn’t you that is being the jerk.

For example, nothing bugs a customer service professional (regardless of if they are good at their job or not) more than the “don’t you know who I am” defence.

Even if you are a legend in your own Y fronts, more famous than Bono, the owner’s BFF or just someone thinking you can potentially scare a ‘better’ level of service out of the human in front of you, the ride on your high horse you are taking actually loses you authority and makes you sound like an A-grade douche.

Create the kind of customer service experience you want

Be brutal- don’t give money to people who cannot do you the courtesy of treating you with the appropriate amount of respect. Don’t let people judge you on appearance and pass you by or not return your call when they say they will. Move on. There are plenty of other businesses who will give you what you need in terms of service.

Ultimately though, it is up to you to shape your customer experience and make use of the tools available to you to get what you want out of your customer service experience. Write a review on places Yelp voicing your issues and concerns. And conversely, praise the businesses and places that have always done the right thing by you. Hell, tell the businesses you love that you do appreciate what they do for you- and visit them regularly so that hard work and effort isn’t wasted and they continue to prosper.

We have the power to embrace the good and get rid of the bad.

Shouldn’t we use it?