Friday, 6 January 2012

Canadians – polite people or private complainers

Sometimes all it takes is a phone call!
Is it just me, or are Canadian just complainers? We bitch in line. We don't do anything about poor services, long wait times, being ignored in a store, or cranky servers.

We do not write letters.
We do not speak to managers.
We don't phone head office.
We do not speak to servers directly.
We do not teach people how to treat us.
We COMPLAIN privately!
 We whine with friends.

This gives us the opportunity to complain about something other than the weather, I suppose!

Ontario Today had a show on which they invited people to phone in with customer service horror stories. Friday: Worst Customer Service 
Ever Cranky sales people; non-existant staff; quibbling over return policies.

 Their guest, a trainer: Shawn Belding, with a book and agency to flog, was the feature on this show. He offered some solutions, but we heard story after story of poor service and bad treatment.
Some phone-in callers spoke about getting on a store PS system and calling for service, and leaving the store. We have to be proactive.

Marketplace, another CBC show, is beginning the 2012 season with Canada's Worst Customer Service. They share frustrating customer shopping experiences and a poll.
"All research was conducted via an online survey.
For more details on our results: Read the full executive summary (PDF 585KB)"
(Not the best source of data!)

Marketplace set hidden cameras. They focused on the negative. They put an actor in to be purposefully rude. They surely didn't focus on the reverse: how rude, ignorant, demanding customers shape the service the NEXT customer receives!

They don't feature stores who do well in this area. They cite a number of complaints, and don't tell us what we can do. Yes, retail and customer services jobs are fairly low-paid, but this cannot be an excuse.

Canada's Worst Customer Service
Erica Johnson was interviewed on CBC Radio to promote the show. She stated, 'As a society Canadians are too polite!'

I disagree. Yes, many do not make a formal complaint. We prefer to complain to those we meet about how we have been treated horribly.
We complain on Facebook.
We complain to friends.
We walk out of stores.

This is only half of the story, however. I wonder how they behaved for their part of the interaction?!

What we CAN do!
Shop locally, become a locavore, frequent stores where you become familiar.
Be a good customer. Be polite, patient, wait your turn in line.
Eschew the big box stores and chains. In the Marketplace show, the worst were Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Zellers. Their bottom line is profit, poor quality goods you must throw out sooner rather than later, poorly paid employees who are cogs in the wheel.

Hubby on the phone with Bell!
What we can do is to make a formal complaint.
Not a quiet one behind a person's back. I have found if I speak to the offending party, it makes a difference. Barring that, you speak to a manager or supervisor. Of course, if you are talking to a large corporation, with employees who have little vested interested in improving service (Bell, Rogers, etc.!) you are often out of luck. But you can record your interactions, note employee names or numbers, the time and date of your call. We have had a month of service reimbursed from this strategy. Marketplace explains How to Get Better Customer Service, but this is after the fact.

Remember the broken guitar on United Airlines? Some days you just don't get satisfaction. Don't take it out on the employees who were not involved. When you phone a corporation, keep your cool.

What we can do is highlight CEOs who do well for their customers and their employees. One such person in Leonard Lee, CEO of Lee Valley Tools.
His stores are closed on Sunday to allow employees to be with family members.
He limits his salary, and gives 25% of the profits back to employees.
His employees include those with grey hair, like mine, who know what they are talking about.
Remember my story about this dude?
Called me old and a prude!
I'd asked him to turn down his vulgar YouTube video!
If a product goes on sale within a certain period of time, his company will send the customer a refund of the difference. (I know – I've had one!)

This is about:
  • Policy: returns policies, customer policy, head office pronouncements
  • Processes: the ease of doing business with a business
  • Personnel: training, the number of staff, pay and benefits, product knowledge seminars 
  • Practices: expectations, complaints processes, relationships with customers, resolving customer and employee conflict.
This woman made a difference:
Papa John's customer Minhee Cho tweeted a photo of a receipt she received at a Papa John's restaurant in uptown, New York City. In it, under the customer's name section, the restaurant employee who rang up the order used the racial slur "lady chinky eyes" to describe her.

UPDATE: Papa John's has responded to the incident on Facebook. A post on its official page reads:
We were extremely concerned to learn of the receipt issue in New York. This act goes against our company values, and we've confirmed with the franchisee that this matter was addressed immediately and that the employee is being terminated. We are truly sorry for this customer's experience.
The company has also addressed the matter on its Twitter feed, tweeting to multiple people that "We have issued an apology, are reaching out to customer & franchise employee is being terminated."


Kay L. Davies said...

Jenn -- We saw the first part of the Marketplace story, and I was reading your post about it when my mind was sidetracked by the missing dog photo in your sidebar. Broke my heart. "Very friendly. Can't swim." We're away from home for a couple of days, and I'm in a hotel room with our dog Lindy snoring peacefully behind me, thinking about a short-haired dog lost in Ontario in winter. If you find out about him being found, please let us know. Poor sweetie.
Luv, K

DUTA said...

I'm rather surprised to learn from your post that Canada, which is considered the country with the highest quality of life in the world, has poor customer service.

Anyway, I totally agree with what's said in your post that people should complain, make a formal complaint wherever and whenever they stumble upon any kind of bad customer service. It helps.

Jenn Jilks said...

I will let you know, Kay. But his owner thinks he might have drowned. So sad.

We do have a high quality of life, I think that people just complain privately, except for the CBC - like most media, who feel that if it bleeds, it leads!

Red said...

Right on! We can take action and receive better service. It is a challenge as places have an ingrown defense when it comes to being challenged on poor service. The first ones we have to hit are the politicians.