I think most of us probably accept that we will experience discontentment with a service or product at some point. But just how many of us are happy to forgive and forget?
It will come as no surprise to many that it was the retail sector which received the biggest share of complaints in the latest multi-sector Consumer Action Monitor survey by Ombudsman Services.
According to the report, retail sector complaints had a 24% share of the total complaints and the cost of poor service to the sector weighed in at a significant £10.05 billion last year.
The report found most consumers are often happy to forgive and forget as long as their complaint is resolved satisfactorily. But, if a complaint is handled poorly many aren’t afraid to retract their custom, with 19% taking their business elsewhere and 15% making a conscious decision to spend less with a brand.
A bad experience can be disheartening, stressful and inconvenient. The company is already facing the weight of an unhappy customer, so the complaints and resolution process should be vital to turning things around.
But sometimes even this won’t be enough.
I had a negative experience with a large retailer in the weeks running up to Christmas the year before last, which has since permanently damaged my relationship with them.
I ordered two sets of four champagne glasses, which were to be a present for my parents. Ordered and confirmed in early December and with a delivery date selected for December 22nd. I was shocked when half of the order was cancelled on the same day I was due to pick it up. That’s right, the same day!
This left me feeling dejected, let down and – above all – incredibly stressed running around physical stores trying to see if there were still any on display. We are a family of eight at Christmas and special occasions, so four flutes instead of eight just didn’t quite cut the mustard!
I was refunded the full amount for the missing part of the order as was proper, and sent a £10 e-gift card as an apology for them being unable to fulfil my order at the eleventh hour.
At the time, I didn’t actually feel the need to complain further; the retailer had refunded me as they were in breach of contract and extended the added olive branch of a gift card. But the experience left me distrustful.
I still shop with the retailer, but will never again do this online around Christmas for fear of being let down in the same way.
How a company manages its complaints and decides to resolve the issue might impact whether the consumer chooses to remain loyal, spends less or takes their business elsewhere.
If your complaint was handled well, would you think more highly of the business? Would you continue spending money with the company in the same way? What if your complaint was handled poorly – would you take your business elsewhere?
Which of these statements best describes how you would react if your complaint wasn't dealt with well:
I would take my business elsewhere – they let me down (81%, 1,356 Votes)
I would make a conscious decision to spend less with the business – I can’t rely on them in the same way (17%, 277 Votes)
I would forgive and forget – everyone makes mistakes from time to time (2%, 36 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,669