There are a lot of factors that get rolled into one final exclamation of really poor customer service, and haven't we all felt at one time or another the ardent desire to just scream in pure frustration? Of course the main factors of incompetence, rudeness, minimal training, and economic cutbacks have made their profound impact on negative customer service experiences, so why not help ourselves feel better, help to improve the company's customer service, and earn some perks at the same time?
We can define perks as anything extra we receive that were not in the original agreement. Examples of perks awarded for poor customer service can include coupons, discounts, free upgrades, travel miles, free hotel accommodations, movie tickets, and the list goes on. As customers, we just all need to know how to ask for them. Ranting only raises your blood pressure, but biting your proverbial tongue, and adjusting your attitude, gratitude, and patience can make the difference in an otherwise very unsatisfactory customer experience.
The most important aspect of effective complaints is to be specific when speaking to a customer service representative. Actually I prefer to write letters and fax a copy of the letter with the initial problem, names, dates, circumstances, and solution. Whether you are speaking to a customer representative in person or corresponding by mail, it is imperative to stay calm and polite. When writing, always remain courteous, and it's important not to blame, insult, or whine.
Make Google your friend, and research the person or the department that will get you results. If you just send a letter to the company, chances are you will not hear much or just get a generic apology. Find the department where you will get results, and include in that ever important correspondence the suggestions how you would correct the problem. As an example, my son (who you know as Douglas, the founder of this blog) was recently traveling and stayed at a well-known hotel chain, but was disappointed that the accommodations were less than stellar. The carpeting was stained, the room was poorly presented, and the maid service left no clean towels daily.
My son researched the hotel chain, wrote a letter explaining his experience, and offered suggestions for improvement. It is of note to mention that my son also complimented the past excellent experiences he has had with the company, and therefore wanted to make sure the company knew why this experience was so disappointing. The hotel chain was very apologetic, and has offered him points in their frequent traveler program which can be applied to future hotel stay discounts.
You don't have to just rollover and accept the bad service; just have the patience and extend the grace to the company allowing them to make it up to you. When you have to wait too long for your car servicing because the service manager ordered the wrong part, ask for a free oil-change the next time. When your waiter spills wine on your cashmere jacket and offers to pay for the dry cleaning, ask for a complimentary dinner next time for all of the inconvenience. Companies do want to please you; just know how to do it right.