Recently I was talking to a friend about his experience with a letting agency. What he was talking about is applicable to many companies and industries. If looking after the customer is important to you read on and see if it fits:
He’d rented a house and he was not impressed with the service he had received. I asked why. He said he felt like any time he asked the staff a question he was being a nuisance.
In true trainer style, I said ‘we all know unless you say something nothing will change. Have you given them any feedback?’
He shook his head. ‘No, it would only make things worse.’
Now my friend is very good at reading people’s responses. Curious to know more I asked, ‘What makes you think that?’
‘It’s just a feeling I get when I’m talking to them.’ He went on ‘I think they wouldn’t be able to handle it, they’d think I was having a go at them and they’d take it out on me.’
Hmmm, interesting I thought. My friend had decided not to say anything and he felt bad about how he had been treated. I thought the staff were probably unaware they had made that impact upon him. It wouldn’t have been a conscious strategy to have customers feel that way. No doubt management would probably be shocked, even if they were part of the problem.
The crux of the matter was my friend had judged the staff as being unable to handle feedback and he could have been right.
We all pick up on each other’s vocal tones and body language. My friend had done this. It was what was not said to him. Everyone he had spoken to had said the right words, they’d called him ‘sir’ but the underlying impact he got was ‘if I ask too many questions I’m a nuisance.’
Not good for business.
He told me the name of the Letting Agency. I won’t share it here, but I know it. Now he’s told me I cannot unknow it. Yes, I could check it out and see if I agree, but will I? What we say to each other as customers has an impact.
Have you ever had bad service and not said anything about it?
I expect we all have.
The reasons we don’t say something could be many:
- Fear of upsetting someone or making them uncomfortable
- Apathy – it’s just too much effort to raise it at the time, it’s not worth it.
- Fear of retaliation – My friend thought they couldn’t handle a direct customer communication without seeing it as an attack against them.
In my view, whether my friend was right about the impression the staff made is not the issue. Whether he should have given feedback is also not the issue. That is his choice.
I think the learning point here is how he perceived the service he received, the impact the staff made, their company feedback mechanisms (or lack of them) and the impact of a negative customer experience on the company’s brand and reputation.
In customer experience, we know that perception is everything. We can’t expect our customers to give us feedback unless we demonstrate we seek it, hear it, value it and act on it.
Not receiving negative feedback doesn’t mean you have a happy customer!
A couple of final questions for you to consider…
How do you cultivate an ability to receive customer feedback in your team?
How would a customer judge the service they receive?
Anyone responsible for team performance can increase productivity by using dancing lion’s training programmes because they give your people the confidence and skills to get results!