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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Secrets to Resolving your Complaints with Customer Service: First Time, Every Time

Would you like to return the dress that is the wrong color or to complain about a mistake on your telephone bill?

Trying to resolve a consumer problem can seem overwhelming. In fact, addressing a complaint as a consumer is a matter of learning the formula for success and applying it often. Approaching the task in an assertive manner provides the foundation for a good outcome.

Seven secrets to successful complaint resolution:

1. Be prepared.

Think of what the store clerk will need and take it with you. For example:
  • Do you have a receipt for the purchase?
  • Do you have a copy of your check or your credit card receipt
Paying for purchases with a credit or debit card provides you with indisputable proof of purchase as well as provides a vehicle for easy return of your money.

2. Begin your conversation pleasantly

Remember that the foundation of assertiveness is an attitude of respect. Approach the clerk with a pleasant look on your face.

Say, "Hello, how are you?" and extend your hand in friendship.

Do not start with "Excuse me," or "I'm sorry, but I need to talk to you."

Making an apology to get attention simply takes away from your power and claims a one-down position. If you want the clerk's attention, use his/her name (you can read it on his/her name tag) or say "Sir..." or "Ma'am, I need to talk to you about this item.

3. Stand or sit at an angle

Confrontation, according to the dictionary, means a face-to-face meeting.

If you stand directly in front of the person to whom you wish to speak, he/she will experience your behavior as angry and confrontive. However, if you wish to convey respect in your assertion, then stand at an angle to the other person.

The angle conveys, "I am free to walk away from this interaction, as are you." Respect for the other person includes our recognition of his/her choice to talk with us and his/her freedom not to talk with us.

4. Use empathic statements

Connection works more effectively than confrontation. We achieve a connection with the other person by letting them know how we imagine it might be to bein their shoes.

An empathic statement to the sales clerk might sound like this, "You seem really busy today, Mrs. Smith, and I imagine that it isn't pleasant to deal with the return of items, but I need to return this dress because it is the wrong color.

Since you made an effort to understand how Mrs. Smith must feel today, she will be more likely to help you.

5. Speak in a well-modulated tone of voice

Keep your voice moderate in tone and volume. Speak so that your words go down at the end of the sentence.

If you allow the pitch of your voice to go up at the end of the sentence, you will sound unsure of yourself and your response will sound more like a question than a statement.

To the waiter: "This is not the salad I ordered," with "ordered" going to the lowest tone in the sentence.

6. Make statements. Don't ask questions.
  • A statement sounds positive and powerful.
  • A question interjects doubt.
"I want to return this waffle baker" is more powerful than "Is it OK for me to return this waffle baker?"

Avoid qualifiers such as "I hope this isn't too much trouble, but I want to return this waffle baker."

An implied question takes away power as well, "I want to return this waffle baker, OK?"

7. Follow-up

If you get good cooperation from an employee or a company, follow up with a thank-you letter or a note of commendation.

you had a difficult time of it, also follow-up with a letter, detailing the reasons for your dissatisfaction. These letters will help you practice assertiveness and often bring results from the company.

Practice these steps every time an opportunity comes your way. Taking the right steps makes complaining a breeze and positive results more likely.

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