Want Better Customer Service? Be A Better Customer

When an ecommerce order that was supposed to reach Richa [name changed] was delayed, she did not hesitate to go on a rant on her Twitter, regaling her 5000+ followers about how the company in question was a “fraud” and was never going to deliver her order.

This when her order was delayed by a few days. This after she’d procured the said product at almost 1/4th of its normal cost during a festive season sale.

The consumer of the digital age is empowered with a voice that finds its way on various channels of social media. One bad experience, and the beleaguered customers get on a personal vendetta to berate or malign the brand. While the customer plight is understandable, and brands should make all efforts to provide a seamless, smooth customer experience, the truth is, stuff does go wrong, people make mistakes and every once in a while the customer may not have the perfect experience he signed up for. However, little do customers in their moment of being victimised realise, that their words and reactions can have far reaching negative effects for the brand. A brand one has painstakingly built to solve real problems, and especially for small businesses, where word of mouth is paramount, one negative comment can set the company back in a huge way.

That said, sometimes the onus is also on the customer to have carried out their due diligence, be patient and above all, be as nice a customer, as they expect their brands to be.

Here are a few ways we can do better at our roles at being consumers, and instead of trying to resort to aggression or rudeness, help both the company and themselves enjoy a mutually respectful, healthy and complaints- free relationship.

1. Be patient with delivery issues

If your order is delayed by slightly longer than estimated by the brand, let go. Unless you’re personally very harmed by the delay, calmly ask the company to let you know what’s causing the delay, instead of lashing out. Maybe the seller had inventory issues, maybe a middleman fell sick. 100 things can happen that can make your order get delayed and sometimes they can be beyond the reasonable control of the business.  If you’re lucky, your late delivery may even turn a blessing into disguise as businesses themselves consider delay in service a gap from their end, and offer apologies in many ways. Zomato even went as far to send this hand-written note and a gift to an employee when his order was delayed by sometime. 

2. Appreciate the processes involved

One of the best parts about ecommerce is the opportunity for refunds, whether partial or full. Though for the company refunds prove challenging (not to mention loss-making) when it’s the seller/operator that defaults on the payments. Just like above, it would help to remain patient with refunds, and unless it’s an egregious delay or a plain denial of refunds by the company, refrain from lashing out at them, accusing them of fraud and worst, demanding for an immediate resolution. It would help to know that the person you’re talking with is just a customer service representative, who is going to need to escalate to the right channels in the company and wait till their response to be able to respond to you.

3. Ensure you’ve provided all the correct details

full disclosure

Customer isn’t always the king. I’ve come across many cases wherein, any cause of delay or confusion stemmed from the customer’s own fault as they failed to provide some details to successfully process a refund. And when the refund didn’t show up, the customer wasted no time in making the brand look like an evil monster who swallowed your first born child.

Before and when making a consumer complaint, make sure all relevant details from your end have been provided and not just demands to fix your problems based on your Facebook or Twitter alone. The more details you can provide, and in a balanced way, the quicker and more efficiently the customer care can resolve it for you

4. Refraining from posting one-sided or unreasonable reviews based on a single bad experience

Recently, a woman posted a long, cutting review on a restaurant where she was wrongly charged on the bill. Hundreds of people read the review and words of support poured in. While she wasn’t wrong in sharing her unpleasant experience, it turned out that a waiter was involved in the foul play and the company was completely unaware of it since the woman in question chose to post about it on social media, than inform the authorities in the restaurant. While strict action was taken against the employee concerned, perhaps the image of the company was irreparably damaged.  

In another case however, when this user posted a complaint against pet startup Pupcake, things backfired when the community told her how she misused social media.

social media complaints


4. Channeling your feedback and complaints on relevant platforms

Most customer facing companies invest heavily into customer service and have dedicated channels to service your complaint or feedback. While you may resent the brand and view them as devils who must be brought down at every opportunity, there is a line between giving constructive feedback or posting a complaint and just spamming on irrelevant threads. This article is a good example of when customers treated a company’s ad campaigns as customer complaint boards.

6. Be nice to customer care/ delivery staff

delivery boys india
(From a SpecialDelivery: Celebrating the unsung heroes of online shopping by Google India)

A business is a transactional relationship. You as a customer pay for a service or product you benefit from. Just like you expect the best of service from them, you as a customer, should treat them with respect, not contempt.  Abusing the customer service reps or raising your voice at them is not only going to ruin their day, but going to make you come across as a major jerk. How about picking up that parcel yourself instead of having the delivery guy lug his 15 kilos of delivery bag all the way up to the 5th floor without a lift? It’s a thankless job as it is, making it easier wouldn’t hurt.

7. Credit given, where credit due

Being a good customer just doesn’t limit itself to refraining from flying off the handle and posting negative comments about the company but also being proactively helpful and positive. Had a great experience with a company? Take a minute and give them a good rating, refer them to people, and appreciate them for the good work. While your money is the reward for a service or a product they provide, everyone could do with a little appreciation at times.