Some clients call it service recovery.  Others call it dispute management.  I call it managing the angry customer.  I want to share a personal story as an illustration of how not to handle the angry customer.

We make a lot of phone calls.  Our interviewers work from their homes, and we use a well-known brand of VOIP phone equipment.  The system worked well for some years until we relocated it to an outside facility to provide more security and better access for our interviewers.  Unfortunately, something changed that we still do not fully understand, and the quality of our calls became uneven.  Sometimes they were great and sometimes not.  Over the past few months, we have spent a good deal of time and money to solve the problem.  While it has improved, it is still not where it needs to be.

There are three major players essential to helping our phone system work; the telephone equipment provider, the provider of data/voice services and the operator of the remote facility where our phone equipment is located.  It takes all three working in concert and working with the intention to solve the problem(s) to make things work.  Of the three, our phone equipment provider failed in this effort and created a very angry customer.  What are the specifics of their action, or lack of action, that created an angry customer?

  • While they appear to understand their equipment, the technical team does not understand how it has to interact with the other components of this complex system.
  • They were too quick to point to simplistic answers.  For example, too often the “internet” was blamed as a cause.  However, in the past, we received good service.  Just blaming it on the internet was not a sufficient answer.  Pointing fingers toward others players in the supply chain is never a good thing to do.
  • Perhaps the most egregious mistake was the failure of the president of the telephone equipment company to respond to an email to him expressing our frustration, in no uncertain terms, with the poor service.  It makes me wonder if anyone cares about the customer.

It is never pleasant to handle the angry customer.  I discovered from my days in sales that if you effectively answered an angry customer’s issues, I often created a very loyal customer.  In this particular case, the phone equipment provider has only made the customer angrier.  Any loyalty that was there is gone.  As I look at this situation, the cause for us is this provider did not want to assume responsibility for helping to solve the problems facing this customer.  They “fixed” their piece, or thought they did, but our problem is still not solved.  This provider had the opportunity to shine but missed a great opportunity.

Send me an email with your angry customer story.  How did you handle the situation?

Lynn Daniel

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