What do you do when you:
- get really poor customer service at a restaurant?
- buy a product that turns out to be a piece of junk?
- watch a movie that was not at all worth your while?
- walk in a store that is disorganized only to discover that there are NO service associates to help you?
- go to a doctor’s appointment and end up waiting an hour to be seen?
Most people’s automatic tendency is to fume and vent and then go about the day with a little cloud over their heads, animation-style.
Instead of doing that, however, you have another option: write a constructive complaint letter.
Point of clarification: When I say “complaint letter,” I don’t mean that you sit down and write a scorchingly spiteful message that ends with, “give me my money back/you better change something fast…or else.”
On the contrary, think of what could have been better and then share that information, along with the negatives of your experience. You certainly can request your money back too (depending on the circumstance), but it’s important that you offer the company some valuable feedback. How can they improve? What can they do better? What ideas do you have to help the company (or person)?
“HELP THE COMPANY/PERSON?,” you are probably shouting at me in upper-case letters, “That company/person does NOT deserve to be helped.” Maybe, maybe not. BUT the only way they can improve (and you can feel truly better about it) is to communicate your experience clearly.
I write letters to companies and change-makers fairly regularly. I write store managers, restaurant owners, politicians, and movie producers. I’ve even written to the President of the United States (note that the image on the right does not show the proper address; click on the link to find out how you can really write the president).
The results have usually been extremely positive (except for the Pres…he didn’t reply). The company often apologizes. The product/service sometimes improves. Sometimes, the brand will even send me a gift card or product to say “thank you.” Most importantly, I feel satisfied that I made a tiny contribution to making the world better.
On the flip side, it’s also important to write letters when you get exceptionally good service or when a product knocks your sock off or when a person’s kindness totally rocks your world. A nice “thank you” goes a long way.
Oh and you know those customer satisfaction surveys that you get in the mail or that are hanging on the wall in various shops? I’m the nerd who always fills them out – with comments in the “tell us more” section, no less.
YOUR TURN: Do you ever write complaint/compliment letters?