Customer service

March 19, 2009

New Zealanders don’t know how to complain effectively.

Oh they can whine and bitch and moan and whinge, but they do so in the least effective manner I’ve ever seen.

Try as I might. I don’t know why. They seem to prefer just shouting about how hard done by they are with no intention of actually helping themselves.

I used to work in restaurants and no matter how many times you ask a customer “is there anything I can do for you?” when they leave they would invariably say something like “Dinner was lovely but the steak wasn’t cooked as well as I like”. Here’s a clue – after you’ve EATEN the steak and BEGUN DIGESTING IT there’s very little I can do for you. If you’d mentioned it when you took the first bite, I could have sorted you out a new one.

Yes, that’s right. A whole new steak. Why? Because I want your return business. I want you to come back and dine again. And to tell all your friends.

Customers need to understand that complaining won’t get them expelled from the nice people club. It won’t get them ostracized by their community. They won’t be cast out and stoned by an angry mob and waiters won’t spit in their food.

Complain in the right time and in the right way and the staff will fall over themselves to make things right for you.

Complain in the wrong way and you won’t get any service at all.

For instance, the lovely chap who rang our call centre, reduced several staff to tears and abused the one person who could help him. Oddly, he did not receive a high level of service. Why? Because we’re only human and humans don’t like to help outrageous bastards who scream and froth at the mouth. They find them off-putting.

Or this chap, for example, who apparently thinks it’s OK to scream blue murder about how crap we are but won’t actually respond to questions about what the problem is and won’t allow anyone to help him out.

Customer service is usually only thought about in one direction – company to consumer. But I think there’s a duty of care the other way as well.

I quite often hear about customers who have had a problem “for ages” and yet when I ask what happened when they called to complain, it turns out they never have.

Let’s look at that for a moment: they never called to complain. They never thought that telling us about the problem would lead to a fix.

Clearly we’ve dropped a ball somewhere if they don’t think we’ll fix it, but isn’t there a duty of care on the user to report any failings they find as well? Won’t that benefit them?

It’s a funny old world.

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3 Responses to “Customer service”

  1. Mysterious Dave at home Says:

    So, apparently Twitter is a place where one can bitch into a void, it is not about communication at all…

    …everyone knows that.

    Dude, I feel for you.

  2. consumist Says:

    It’s a cultural thing in NZ, unlike the American’s who won’t hesitate to complain at poor service, here we just put up with it, and usually it simmers away until sometimes they go off – over the top completely often as your’ve experienced. If we were quicker to give feedback and complain the service would be better because obviously unless you know there’s a problem there’s little you can do – like you point out.
    NZders do need to feel more comfortable about pointing out poor service, however many companies are unaccustomed to complaints and handle them poorly so maybe it’s a two way thing – it’s a brave company that invites complaints isn’t it, but it’s often the only way to improve.

    • audent Says:

      I’m all for complaints… but complaints that make sense. Complaints I can do something about!

      It is a bit of a learning curve, though.


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