How do you determine whether a complaint or challenge is valid. In this video, Noah Fleming introduces a flowchart for responding to customers in all situations.
- There's a really simple model that can be used to troubleshoot almost any customer challenge. You ask the question, is the complaint, criticism, or feedback valid or invalid? But before you even do that, it's important to understand why customers complain. In my opinion, people complain for two basic reasons. First, they want something for free. It's harsh, I know, but it's true. Second, they've experienced an inconvenience and annoyance and they want their concerns to be acknowledged.
Furthermore, they want to receive an apology, a promise that change is coming and to know how you'll follow up. Customer service can be simplified if we recognize that we're typically responding to one of those two basic impulses. The key is to determine is this complaint, comment, feedback or review valid or invalid? So let's cover two fictitious reviews that I created. Our goal here is to first determine if the review, feedback, or complaint is valid or invalid.
Here's the review left by the customer. We just got back from our stay at The Fleming Hotel in the heart of Times Square in New York City. We were appalled! We went to bed at 7:00 p.m. and our room was loud. Bright lights flickered and flashed during our entire stay. Yeah, the room had black-out curtains, but they didn't block out everything. My wife and I had the worst night's sleep of our lives. I asked the front desk clerk, who was useless by the way, what he intended to do about our stay. We weren't offered anything. Not a free night, not a free meal, nothing! Needless to say, we'll never be back.
Is this review valid or invalid? It's invalid. Deciding to stay in the heart of Times Square in New York City comes with some degree of understanding that you will be spending a night at the epicenter of the City That Never Sleeps. Now contrast that to this review. We just got back from our stay at the supposedly exquisite, five-star Fleming Bed & Breakfast in the mountains of North Carolina. We paid $650 per night. Our bed wasn't made when we arrived at our room, and there was a pile of hair in the bathtub.
The woman at the counter was talking on her cell phone pretty much the entire time we were there. Even as we stood there waiting to talk with her about the state of our room, she took her sweet time getting off the phone! I can't imagine her Friday night plans were more important than your customers. Needless to say, we'll never be back. Is this review valid or invalid? It's valid. Anyone staying in a room that costs $650 a night in a hotel that's marketed to its customers as being exquisite and five-star deserves an experience that closely matches those expectations.
In this case the complaint needs to be addressed in a number of ways. Remember, before you address any customer complaint, the first thing you need to ask yourself, is the customer's concern valid or invalid?
- Responding to valid and invalid complaints
- Diagnosing a problem before you prescribe a fix
- Disarming and redirecting unhappy customers
- Delivering bad news
- Remaining calm, cool, and collected while dealing with customers