First, make your disappointment known to on site personnel at the time it occurs. That may sound a overly basic, but I’m always surprised when a client tells us they did not like something but failed to tell the front desk, purser, or tour escort. If you find the situation embarrassing it may be easier for you to leave your concern in writing for management to act on. Make sure they know how to find you for follow up.
If the situation was not resolved to your satisfaction with the on site personnel you may want to direct your complaint to senior management. This usually means a follow up after you have returned home.
There are two variables that the Customer Service Representative must deal with. Perceptions of good and bad are registered very differently by people in the exact same circumstances. And people have a very wide range of expectations when they file a complaint. These representatives are not clairvoyant so you must tell them what is important to you.
Here is how it works best:
1. Put your complaint in writing. Be specific with dates, times, and names of persons involved. Only address the specific issues of your complaint. Refrain from comments about other aspects of your experience that are not germane to your complaint. Notes such as "We liked the ports, and our waiter was nice, but we had a problem with ...." may seem like you are presenting a balanced account so you are a fair person, but they could undermine your cause.
2. Don’t send your complaint directly to the supplier. Address it to us, your agent. We will add our cover comments, direct it through proper channels for customer service, and copy you on all correspondence. Each travel company has a different procedure, and we make sure it gets to the proper person for response. We most probably have thousands of other customers with this same supplier. That helps validate your complaint and adds additional clout to your concerns.
3. Don’t join in with other travelers for a group complaint. If there is a circumstance that affected other travelers too it may seem like there is strength in numbers, but ganging up on the supplier almost never achieves the objective. Suppliers are reluctant to compensate people in a gang because it can be overly costly to resolve the problem. If they give something to one person, they will have to give the same to everybody, so they get very stingy when compensating groups of people. An individual complaint about the same circumstance is more likely to receive a favorable response.
4. Don't declare that you "will never do business with them again". You certainly have the right to never return to a resort, or cruise line, or air line. But, when you inform them in your complaint that you never intend to give them another chance they have no reason to appease you. That would simply be a waste of their resources to compensate you if you won't continue to do business with them. If your complaint is for serious harm or loss, then litigation may result in compensation. If you are simply disappointed or annoyed then this tactic will not get you what you want.
5. If you feel there is something specific that will make up for your disappointment, be specific and spell out exactly what will make it ok for you.
Clients are often uncomfortable with # 5. It is the most critical part of the process, and satisfaction depends on it. Here is why.
People with complaints generally fit into one of these categories.
· Want management to be aware of a situation so it does not happen again.
· They are disappointed and feel they deserve an apology.
· They feel they did not get what they paid for and expect equivalent compensation.
· They are looking for a windfall because they are part of the "gotcha" segment of our society who try to turn any perceived shortcoming into their personal profit.
Customer Service representatives must deal with everything from polite informants, to “slip & fall” con artists. In our hyper litigious society they are careful to protect their company’s interest. If you are not specific about what will make you happy the Customer Service representative will have to guess what will be ok for you. Their safe route is to assume that you just wanted them to be aware of the situation, and they will thank you for your input. That’s it.
It does not work to your favor to say: “I’m mad, and you better do something about it”. If you don’t know what will make you happy, they won’t either. If you are not specific about your request, they will offer you the least that they feel they can get away with, which may be disappointing to you. I have never seen them miraculously pop up with a better deal than a client expected, and once an offer of compensation is made they don’t renegotiate. Be honest about what you want – you may get it.
It is never our position to suggest what would make it ok for you. That is personal, and must come from you. If you want an apology, then you need to ask for it. If you expect to travel for free in the Owners Suite for the rest of your life, then you need to ask for it. Customer Service reps respond best to specifics.
We don’t make any promises about getting results from complaints, but we can promise you this – if your complaint is legitimate, and you follow these suggestions, we have the greatest probability of correcting your complaint to your satisfaction.
I personally answer all client complaints. Feel free to bring your concern directly to me.