December 30, 2007

Why you don't get what you want?

No matter how hard we try, and no matter how many safeguards are put in place, once in a while things do go wrong. As part of being an IT consultant, and even just an on-site tech, it is frequent that I have been the contact for my clients, and the representative of the company I work for. I have also worked in the retail industry for a while, and while it is expected to have unhappy customers (you really can't please everyone) we still try our best to help those we can. But why is it that some people walk away happy, while others walk away feeling like they have been robbed? How can you make sure that you're one of the ones who walk away happy?

  • Don't lose your head: The most important thing to remember when something bad happens, whether it be a service you paid for was not what you expected, you were sold something you didn't actually need, or you bought something you needed only to find out that it didn't work, is to keep a cool head. 90% of the time when you go back to complain or try to get a resolution to the problem, the person you will work with to resolve the problem is not the one who caused it, so yelling at them is a really bad way to start a conversation. This is the person who can help you, so be nice to them, even if you are mad. It isn't their fault someone else messed up, and they can't change what already happened, so as hard as it can be at time, just be nice and start fresh, this will increase the chance of you walking away happy many times over.

  • Know what you want: You have to know what you want the end result to be. Screaming "JUST FIX IT!" won't work. Tell the representative you are working with exactly what you want. I hate people who say "what are you going to do for me?" I hear it a lot when people bought the wrong thing or bought something defective. I say "let you exchange it for the right thing". The ones who say "can you waive shipping" or "can you give me a small discount for the inconvenience" will usually get it. It gives me something to go to the manager with. If your request is reasonable, we do are best to fulfill it.

  • Be reasonable: You have to be reasonable. There is no way we can give you the product for free just becasue it was the wrong one. It just doesn't work that way. 10% off, yea probably but free...unlikely. We aren't going to take back a product against policy for a full refund becasue you realize it isn't what you really needed despite a description and the compatibility being on the box.(especially if you start yelling) And as big of a pain as it is, driving to the store to return something does not constitute such a huge inconvenience that it requires free services and a total refund (and the correct product). Sorry, it just isn't like that. Ask for something that is reasonable and will make you happy. if its a service with a monthly subscription, ask for a month or two free. If it's just a set price, ask for a discount and a refund for the difference. Ask for refunded delivery if they shipped you the wrong thing. Stuff like this is easy to get, and in most cases more than makes up for the small errors.

  • Do not make threats: Making threats (physical, legal, or other) is just a bad idea. I'll give you the outcome in advance.

    • Legal threat (i.e. I'm suing you): You get transfered to our corporate legal department, and any chance that the store can help you just went away. Once threatened with a lawsuit, if taken seriously, it is out of our hands. We can't help the customer.

    • Physical Threat(I'm going to come and kick you ass...blah blah blah): As rare as this is, I have gotten it a few times. When I was younger I was stupid and would laugh at the people threatening me. I was in high school, I was a football player, I lifted weights daily and it showed. I'm 6'3 and by no means little. Id welcome people to come pay me a visit, then laugh as they quickly changed their attitude when addressing me. Now I just remind them that they are breaking the law and that I have all of their contact information. Either way the customer comes out looking like an ass and I get a good chuckle. I have never had a customer try to hit me, or even get in my face. I have seen customers try to hit other employee's only to be tackled, and arrested when the police arrived. Then he got tazed for resisting arrest. Good stuff.

    • Other (I'm going to call the BBB, Attorney General, etc.): This will pan out different for different reps. For the most part, they are pointless for one reason; the employee you are talking too doesn't care. Nothing is going to happen to them if the company gets sued, and if they have been in the industry long (like I have) they will know when there is a legitimate claim and when the customer is full of it. When its a legitimate complaint, it rarely gets this far. That and the BBB has no legal standing to do anything. They are like a big complaint board for people to look at. I can find complaint about every major company on the BBB, and other than that they are useless.
So to sum it up. Be nice, Know what you want and be reasonable with your requests. If you are in the wrong and just want things to be fixed, you can ask but you are out of luck if they don't. The best way to deal with this stuff is to avoid it. Do your research so you don't have to deal with exchanges if you buy the wrong thing. There is no way around getting defective product, it just happens, and while it sucks, its part of life. Just deal with it using the tips above.

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