What are Your Customer Feedback Obstacles?

I recently contacted my broker concerning a problem with the way the company had conducted a specific transaction. I asked the local office for someone to contact at the corporate office, where the problem occurred, and after three days all that could be provided was a fax number – no name. I prepared the fax that contained my concerns and sent it to the local office to confirm my facts before I sent it officially. Whoops, I triggered the corporate complaint (compliance) police.

What proceeded next was a multi-week review by the firm (local and corporate) that resulted in a letter from a Complaint Investigator that suggested that the problem was with the local office (it clearly was not) and that my concern would be forwarded to the appropriate area (unnamed) for further consideration (what does that mean?).

In an effort to give feedback and improve their service level (at least on the transaction that I was involved in) I was left with the following:

• I encumbered the local office with a significant amount of correspondence required by the investigative process.
• Left the local office tarnished which was not the objective and it was undeserved.
• A letter to me that is completely pointless when all I wanted to do was talk to a real person and make a suggestion.

The process was so customer unfriendly that I do not see how a customer could be encouraged to interact with either office without initiating an out of control and onerous process when all I wanted to do was share an opinion. To top it off the company could not take the time to call and talk to me personally and instead sent an “apology” letter that did not resolve the matter.

What hurdles or filters do you put in front of your customer when they want to contact someone regarding concerns with the product or service. Is the local sales or customer service person able to refer a concerned customer to a live person in the head office?

How can customer concerns be addressed better?

• More is achieved when the customer concern can be aired with a responsible person as soon as the issue has occurred.
• One-on-one conversations can provide the basis where misunderstandings can be resolved, clarifications provided and where valid issues are identified action taken.
• Companies that use online contact forms need to be sure to respond in a timely manner (<24 hours?) and not just have the message drop into an internet hole or send an acknowledgement but no follow up.
• Where possible, follow up with a call with the person and explain what action has been taken or to get more input. I actually had this happen with an issue with Symantec. See Unusual Follow-up!!!

Examine your customer feedback process. Survey customers that have given you feedback as to the experience that they had and did it encourage further or less business with you or referrals to others. The customer relationship does not end with the sale not should it be taken for granted.

If you have taken measures to improve your customer feedback process share and discuss them with others using the comment form below.

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