Remember what your momma told you?
When it comes to sage wisdom, there’s no one more revered (or feared!) than a mother. After raising a child (or several), she’s well-versed in complaints, and how to deal with them. Momma does know best, and she’s going to help me illustrate some points on how to offer constructive criticism.
Constructive criticism makes for a customer businesses will actually want to listen to, and more importantly, help.
I’m sure you’ve heard them all, countless times, as a child, but all those little “Mom-isms” are just as relevant and applicable now, as they were, then…especially when it comes to making a complaint and giving customer feedback. There is a right way, and – definitely – a wrong way to complain. Momma’s got the following tips for anyone facing a customer service issue.
Here’re several tips to make your Momma proud the next you have to make a complaint:
“Don’t talk to strangers.” Do your research and find out who it is you need to talk to in order to best resolve your problem. Complaints are general statements, while constructive criticism is specific, and specific problems call for specific solutions. Find the person at the appropriate location, level, or department and try to address the problem with them first, as they’ll have the direct knowledge and power to solve the problem. Simply put, make sure you talk to someone who can do something about it.
“Keep it short ‘n sweet.” This goes along with composing your thoughts and yourself before making a complaint. A focused inquiry is easy to direct or re-direct, can be sent to the appropriate person, and usually expresses not only the problem, but suggests a solution, too. Stick to the facts, Jack.
“Stop picking at it or it won’t heal.” You do have a right to be upset, and that right is the one giving you the power and ability to complain. After all, you wouldn’t be approaching customer service if you weren’t dissatisfied to begin with. Once you’ve expressed your feelings, move on from there. More time should be spent discussing the solution than the problem.
“I’m not a mind-reader!” Do you want an explanation? An apology? A refund? Before you speak, know what it is A.) You’re speaking about, and B.) You are looking for. You cannot expect a company to solve a problem they don’t know how to fix. Help them help you. It will make both your lives easier.
“Who’s the boss?” An opinion is one thing, telling someone how to run his or her company is another. You cannot demand someone fire an employee, for example. That is not your responsibility and not within your power. Moreover, you indirectly insult the company that hired that person to begin with. Know that they ultimately make the final decision, here, and give them their due respect. It goes both ways.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Rarely if ever has an insult or accusation gone over well when trying to solve a problem. It doesn’t accomplish anything and creates another problem entirely, turning a business conversation into a personal argument. Let me ask you: if it’s not going to help you get what you want, should you say it? Probably not. Focus on positive, constructive thoughts that will move the conversation forward.
“Play nice [with the other kids] in the sandbox.” Insults and name-calling will never, ever have a positive effect. If you treat them nicely, they’ll more likely than not return the favor. Say “Please.” Say “Thank You.” You wouldn’t believe how much of an impact this approach makes, and it always starts the conversation out on the right foot. The company will feel comfortable knowing the customer is composed and calm, and be more eager to move forward with the conversation. Moreover, if an employee feels like he is personally making a difference, and is being appreciated, he’s far more likely to do all he can to help you and/or your situation out.
Momma’s a smart woman, and we could all afford to remind ourselves of these little lessons, time and time again. This little list of customer feedback tips will go a long way, and hopefully leave both yourself and the company happy.
Don’t forget that companies deserve praise, too, and something as seemingly small as a glowing Yelp review, or a short e-mail note can make a company’s day. Take the time to let them know when they’ve done well and gone above and beyond your expectations.
So, next time, before you complain, ask yourself…would you talk to your mother like that?
Stay tuned for the follow-up to this post, where Eric describes his own recent experiences from providing customer feedback, and what became of them.
What do you think? Is constructive criticism the best way to go? Are you willing to compromise when it comes to customer feedback, or not?