Home Press Release 12 tips to get the customer service you deserve

12 tips to get the customer service you deserve

by Tania Griffin

South Africans are often deeply frustrated by poor customer service. They frequently feel ignored and let down by businesses and organisations that should make their lives easier but, instead, bring added stress and inconvenience.

The 2023 South African Customer Experience Report notes that, while there were “pockets of excellence where companies really did go above and beyond to delight”, its survey responses, in the main, painted “a demoralising picture”. The report suggests that South Africans are so accustomed to failure and disappointment “that delight is about little more than getting the fundamentals right”.

Lack of accountability

Bad customer service is rendered for a variety of reasons:

A corporate culture that doesn’t prioritise customer satisfaction, focusing instead on sales targets, can result in staff neglecting customers once a sale has been made.

High staff turnover can lead to inexperienced employees handling complex customer issues. They may lack the training to handle complaints efficiently, or the authority to resolve the problems on the spot.

Cumbersome procedures and outdated systems can slow response times further, and the situation may be worsened by miscommunication among departments. Issues with online platforms, payment systems or communication tools can further disrupt customer service delivery.

“Waiting endlessly, being passed from one department to another, repeating your concerns, and having your requests ignored drain your patience and erode trust,” says Sarah Nicholson, operations manager at JustMoney.co.za, a platform that helps South Africans make good money choices.

“Complaining efficiently involves a strategic approach, and you need to plan and be persistent to get the results you want,” she advises.

Nicholson offers 12 solid tips:

  1. Keep records: When you make a purchase or sign up for a service, keep a copy of the receipt or invoice. This document is crucial for proof of purchase, warranty claims or returning items. Record the payment method (cash, debit card or credit card) and transaction IDs or confirmation numbers. For significant purchases, document serial and model numbers, and warranty information.
  2. Gather your facts: Compile a list of dates, names, order numbers and any other information that may help resolve the problem.
  3. Know your rights: Familiarise yourself with policies and consumer rights related to the product or service you’re complaining about.
  4. Stay calm and be polite: Remember, you’re interacting with another human being. Be respectful rather than aggressive and angry.
  5. Identify the issue: State your complaint succinctly and focus on key points.
  6. Explain the resolution you want: Request a refund, replacement, repair or apology, depending on your complaint.
  7. Listen actively: Allow the customer service representative to respond fully to your complaint. Listen to their proposed solutions.
  8. Be persistent: If the first response doesn’t fully address your concerns, and the company representative sticks rigidly to a script, ask to escalate the matter to a supervisor or someone with more authority.
  9. Follow up in writing: If you’re complaining over the phone or in person, follow up with a written complaint via email. This provides a record of your grievance and can be helpful if further action is needed.
  10. Take advantage of the company’s social media feed: Social media platforms can be effective for getting attention from companies, but should not be a first resort. Be firm but respectful in any public posts.
  11. Aim high: If you continue to get an inadequate response, obtain the email address of a senior manager or the CEO and go to the top.
  12. Seek alternative resolutions: Consider other avenues if direct communication with customer service doesn’t work. Take the matter up with a head office that manages franchisees and provincial divisions. You can also contact the sector ombudsman, consumer protection agencies or the Small Claims Court.

“Keep in mind that the goal of complaining is to resolve the issue satisfactorily,” says Nicholson. “Approach the situation with the mindset of finding a solution, communicate clearly and respectfully, document everything, and escalate if necessary.”

Image credit: Freepik

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