It is a sad fact of life that if you were to ask the majority of people if they have ever encountered poor customer service when making a complaint, the response would be an overwhelming and resounding ‘yes’.

I was recently left with my blood set to boiling point after many frustrating, and utterly fruitless calls to my energy provider over what should have been a straightforward matter. Judging by the recent hike in energy over the rate of inflation, I have a feeling I was not the only one putting in a complaint that day. Yet time after time, customers, whose satisfaction should be a primary concern for every company, are often treated with contempt for merely wishing to give feedback or express dissatisfaction. 

This left me wondering: why has such poor treatment of customers (by companies) now become the accepted norm? What happened to that well-known phrase: ‘The customer is always right’? At Robinson College we strive to put our clients first and to get it right every time.  But I’m realistic enough to know that now and again, things do go wrong and that’s when a brand new opportunity arises to make a customer for life.  We know that providing excellent service and going the extra mile to meet their requirements, especially when we are responding to a complaint, is the way to ensure that they want to come back to us.

Listening carefully and with patience to what went wrong, being realistic and empathetic about the issues that arose and vitally, being prepared at an early stage to say “sorry”, are the crucial cornerstones of complaint handling.  Too many businesses forget that “after the event” is still a crucial customer service time. Companies need to express desire to listen to their customers, show their willingness to help by understanding their problems and doing whatever possible to solve issues quickly and effectively. Whilst your sales team may be able to sell ice to the eskimos, if the follow up service is unsatisfactory, even your star employee won’t be able to secure repeat custom, and ultimately, obtaining a loyal client base is vital for business survival.

It is time that excellent customer service is clearly seen as the lifeline of a business. This is relevant today more than ever before, not least because of the increasing popularity of social media, with unsatisfied customers using twitter to name and shame companies to hundreds, thousands, even millions of users in the digital world - a very damaging prospect.

What happened in the energy provider saga you wonder?  You guessed it – I walked and now I am happily being served by another, helpful and customer focused supplier.  Give me a call if you’d like me to name names!