NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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How to Complain, Complain, Complain, Complain

How to Complain, Complain, Complain, Complain


          A recent survey of "customer rage" found that a consumer frustrated with a problem had to contact the company an average of 4.4 times before the problem was resolved. Not surprisingly, customer loyalty and satisfaction drops significantly after a second call for help—and just about disappears after the third call.

          Why are so many contacts needed?  What can you do to insure your complaint is addressed the first time out of the gate?  Following are some ideas to lessen your time on hold -

          Have your info on hand – Find the receipt!  Or if you used a credit card to make the purchase, locate the purchase and its corresponding transaction number on your credit card statement so the company can track your purchase.  Gather any and all documents, such as receipts, warranties, and store policies, and read them carefully Actually, many second complaint calls need to be made because we, the consumer, did not have the needed info at hand for the first call.

          Figure out what solution you want. When you call to complain, make sure you know what it is that you want. Do you want a replacement or a repair? Do you want to dispute a charge, have a fee waived, or receive a discount?

          Remember manners – Almost all companies have their own version of a maze-like automated answering system.  When you finally have a real person on the line, it can be all too easy to take out our frustration on that person.  Human nature being what it is though, the person on the other end is much more likely to try to help you if you're polite and civil. Politely point how long you have been a customer and how much business you can bring the company.

          Look for the website – Most companies have an online complaint form on their website.  If both an 800 customer service number and a contact form are both given, complete the form first and then call.  The form will be automatically received and forwarded to the appropriate department.  When you make the phone call, clearly state that you also submitted an online form and when you did so.  This can help the customer service person you have on the phone better analyze your concern.

          Companies want to retain you as a customer, especially if you’re reasonable and have a valid complaint. Good customer service still exists. The key is to approach the complaint process with a plan.

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