This post is prompted entirely by my recent interactions with Royal Mail, but the hold true for many organisations.
Life, as we all know, has times when it just seems to be ganging up on you. Nothing seems to go right, nothing happens the way you expect and you are left in an uncomfortable place and without enough, or some times any, knowledge or information you quickly become frustrated as you are not sure what to do next.
So when, as a customer, I reach that place the last thing I want to hear are lies. They may be lies offered in good faith, but they are blatant and completely without excuse.
The most common lie I’ve heard is the lie of affirmation. Being told that I matter, or that the organisation is very keen to improve their service and help solve my problem, and other such positive affirmation is not useful and likely to only irk me further.
Apologise by all means but please mean it, and please make sure it is immediately followed up with an offer of help.
And when you have really stuffed up and I, the customer, point this out, have the good grace to agree, rather than look for excuses that I, the customer, have no control over. I’m sure that crucial system was down for a short while and that is the root of all evil in the world, but hey, it’s not my problem.
Lastly, and this is sometimes the worst of all, please please PLEASE do not send me out a questionnaire after the event. Remember, I’ve been angry and frustrated, lost in the midst of YOUR processes and systems and most likely I’ve been the one trying to peace together information from email A, website B and phonecalls C, D and E as, for no good reason (trust me, my company builds this stuff, there is no reason why you can’t have all your systems talking to each other).
That questionnaire is usually a stock affair with a nice welcoming “ohhh we are good people and not only that we are trying to be better!” waffle at the start, and is constructed in such a way as to make REAL feedback almost impossible.
People like me really don’t want to write letters of complaint, and you know what, when things go bad that’s ok. Just don’t lie to us. Tells us you know something has gone wrong, share the information with us, talk to us and be human. We don’t expect everything to work all the time, but the way you handle things when they go wrong makes far more of a difference than you seem to realise.