Proper Procedures for Managing Customer Complaints (Conclusion)

Howard Scott |

PEMBROKE, Mass. — You have a partially unattended store that has a box for complaints.

One night, a customer scribbles down that she lost a dollar in a machine. Your attendant comes in the next morning. Around noon, he looks in the complaint box and sees the complaint form. He scoffs and returns to his usual work.

At the end of his shift, he retrieves the complaint again, but reasons that the sum is such a small amount of money that the customer won’t remember it.

On his way out, he tosses the form in the wastebasket.

In another attended store, a customer complains to the attendant that her child cut herself playing in the back yard.

The attendant looks at the child’s wound, retrieves a bandage and hands it to the mother.

With an air of grievance, he says to the mother, “You should always supervise your child. It isn’t our responsibility,” and he walks away.

These two incidents reveal weakness in responding to complaints. In the first incident, the customer wasn’t taken care of and might decide never to return.

The customer might say to herself, “They didn’t even get back to me. They surely do not value their customer, so I guess I’ll go to the Laundromat on Stuart Avenue.”

In the second incident, the mother might be offended by being criticized. Secondly, no effort was made to find out how the child injured herself. There could be something dangerous lying in the backyard.

Every operator should have a complaint procedure. It is not sufficient to expect all attendants and staffers to handle complaints.

As these examples show, such situations aren’t always handled in the correct manner.

‘MAKE THE CUSTOMER HAPPY’

If you operate an unattended store, then you must have a complaint box.

Make it visible and accessible. Perhaps paint the box a bright color, labeling it “Complaint Box.”

Above-the-box signage is most important. Something like this will do: “If we displeased you in any way, please fill out a complaint form. We definitely will respond and see that the issue is resolved. This is our way to keep a satisfied clientele.”

Your job, then, is to regularly check the complaint box and respond to all the complaints.

Basically, you want to make the customer happy.

For instance, a customer complains that they lost $2.25 in one of the washers. You check the money slot and find that it is working.

You have a predicament. You can say, “I checked the machine, and it is working fine and I can find no unaccounted coin problems.”

Or, you can say, “I checked that machine and it worked fine, but to keep you happy, I have enclosed the money in this envelope.”

As a goodwill gesture, I would reimburse the customer the first time it happens, but be stricter on successive complaints. Either way, you are responding to complaints, and that is a good thing.

KEEPING TRACK

Keep track of your complaints and their resolutions in a complaint notebook.

Such recordkeeping will aid in maintenance planning and in handling future complaints.

Over time, you develop a better understanding of customer mentality, and it will enable you to better satisfy the customer.

One can’t be too organized. Getting organized with complaints is part of the larger picture that says “success.”

Missed Part 1 of this story? You can read it now HERE.

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at [email protected].

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