Source: USA TODAY
Not every purchase goes as planned, and it can be frustrating. How you handle the situation affects the time it takes to resolve things and the money you may get back. Here are some tips on how to effectively complain to get an issue resolved to your liking:
1. Take emotion out of it. For starters, don’t get riled up. Being motivated to take action and being enraged or hostile are two different things. Be business-like and think of yourself in the third-person, almost like you are handling a matter on behalf of someone else.
2. Be specific and concise. In keeping with being business-like, don’t give the long version. Value your own time and that of the recipient of your complaint. You can find sample complaint letters online to use as a template that can help you capture the relevant facts.
3. Be realistic about what you’re asking for — a credit, an exchange, a discount, a re-do — and specify a requested time frame, such as, “Please confirm this can be resolved in the next 24 hours, week, month, before the end of the year?” Also, be mindful of the fact that you’re not the only one with an issue. The Federal Trade Commission receives more than 2 million consumer complaints annually.
4. Help them win. If someone is helpful in the process, thank them for their help. It can be hard to have the presence of mind to do this when you’re in the thick of things, but those are the notes or recorded calls the customer service representative can keep for her performance review, and it’ll likely increase her determination to help see through your issue. Help her win and you’ll win.
5. Go viral. A recent study pegged the value of a Facebook “Like” to a company brand at $174. On the flip side, negative posts have a downside. But remember, you are trying to solicit a reaction — you want to prompt someone to help you. So, don’t just say “this company stinks” or “I hate X” — that’s revenge without a goal.
Instead, you can mention your disappointment and then pose a question: “Anyone know how I might be able to fix this?” The bigger the company, the more likely they are to have someone monitoring social media for just this kind of thing.
6. Find advocates. There are a lot of organizations designed to protect consumers and resolve complaints, including the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General Offices. Members of the military and law enforcement can work through the Military Sentinel Network. And there are newly designed mobile resources for Spanish-speaking Americans who generally access the Internet by phone. You might also contact prominent bloggers like Consumerist.com or the consumer reporter at your local TV affiliate. If they pick up your story, they may also forward your complaint to the company, which usually prompts an almost immediate escalation.
7. Escalate. Speaking of escalations — use this move sparingly, but if you’re really stuck, e-mail C-Level executives at the company — CEO, CFO, COO. They’re usually able to forward it to someone who will make it a top priority, given who it’s coming from.