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Don’t Be a Softie – Squeak to Help Enact a Customer Service Improvement!

I advocate living in an appreciative manner. It spreads goodwill and attracts good service. But wait! I’m not suggesting you simply float in a cloud of good feelings hoping that everyone serves you well.

Sometimes you get bad service. And when that happens to you, squeak! Why? Because the old saying is true: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. By squeaking, you just might help a company you like make an important customer service improvement.

When you need more attention, better help, stronger support or valid compensation, here’s what you can do:

1. Get your facts straight. Put them down in writing, avoiding the temptation to inflate or exaggerate your claims. Make it clear where you think a customer service improvement is needed.

2. Speak or write to someone who can help. Over the phone, be sure you talk with someone who can make things happen (sometimes a secretary can get things done more quickly than a manager). When writing, send your letter to a “real person,” not to a faceless “Office of Customer Affairs.” This is important if you want to see a real customer service improvement.

3. Explain your situation. Detail the problem, specify your request (be reasonable here), and give a timeline for receiving a reply (10-14 days is fair in most situations).

4. Escalate your communication. If you do not get a response by the given date explain that you will promptly complain to the President, General Manager or Managing Director. Don’t make it sound like a threat, but let them know you are ready to do what’s necessary to get the satisfaction you require and see a customer service improvement enacted.

5. Take even stronger action. Loyal customers are important to every business, so your chances of being well attended are getting better all the time. However, in the unlikely event you do not get the satisfaction you deserve, then take stronger action to see a customer service improvement enacted.

Write to your local newspaper, contact the Better Business Bureau, send out a message to your friends and colleagues, tell the competition, or even get more “creative” with the nature and the style of your complaint.

I’ve seen customers create and pay for negative newspaper ads, websites, pickets, boycotts and PowerPoint presentations that spread like a virus.
While I am not advocating antagonism for its own sake, when you need attention and it’s not forthcoming, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Key Learning Points

When you want a response, reaction or rapid resolution to a service problem, be sure your voice is heard. Remember, complaining about lousy service helps businesses to improve. If they don’t pay attention to what’s going wrong, they’ll just keep doing it to others and no customer service improvement will be made.

Action Steps

Follow the five steps listed the next time you see a need for a customer service improvement. And keep track of the details: your complaint, their response and the ultimate resolution. If they do a good job, be sure to let them know you appreciate their customer service improvement. Stop squeaking, and start speaking, with praise.

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