What is Serial Complaining?
Serial complainers are not to be confused with people that complain more than once because they have suffered sub-standard service on more than one occasion. (If you are receiving multiple complaints from the same customer, be sure to deal with the issues that have been raised before labelling them a serial complainer.) What we are talking about here are serial compulsive complainers who have unrealistic expectations or complain about issues which are not really relevant to the service your business is providing. Be careful not to dismiss complaints too readily or the same complaint from two different customers, for example if a number of customers are complaining that there are too many mosquitoes near the swimming pool, do not automatically dismiss this as outside your control. They won’t come back either way.
Why are they Complaining?
That’s a good question, which I guess we’ll never be able to truly answer. We could speculate that it’s because they want something for free, they are perfectionists or they are seeking attention. Don’t get engrossed in their reasons for complaining just focus on this as a small problem to be dealt with and part of the normal expected issues associated with running a business. The key thing to remember is:small problem, after all an unjustified complaint is surely less serious than a legitimate one so there’s no point getting worked up about it.
Don’t delay replying to a complaint because you feel it is unreasonable. It will turn into ranting on internet blogs and bad mouthing your organisation. Ignoring a complaint is justification for a real complaint and you can bet that’s exactly what they’ll do. Don’t let a groundless complaint escalate into a serious one.
Stop Offering Rewards for Complaining
Deal with the complaints pragmatically, if the complaint is unreasonable and does not justify compensation then don’t offer any. If they are just after free stuff they will soon stop complaining when the steady stream of rewards dries up. Ensure that your response is pragmatic but charged with emotional language and heartfelt feelings, you can give away as many of those as you like for nothing.
You should only consider exiting a customer if they are not profitable, however with particularly difficult customers you may find that the time and costs associated with doing business with them outweighs the profit you can hope to make. To exit a customer diplomatically stop sending them marketing material, slowly increase the price if you can, recommend a competitor, sorry, really good friend who is also in your line of work.
Below are some real life hilarious complaints…
“I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends’ three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller.”
“My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”
“It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England it only took the Americans three hours to get home.”
“A student contacted a food producer to complain that he’d almost choked on a fish hook. A full investigation followed involving full traceability reports. It was established that the dish used net caught fish and no hooks had been used in the production process. The student apologised for trying to falsely obtain compensation.”
“On receiving a call advising that her contact lens order was early and could be collected, the customer complained to the head office, suggestion that the ‘overzealous’ ordering system was akin to high pressure selling.”
“A customer contacted their electricity provider complaining a power failure resulting from high winds caused them to miss a “vital episode of Coronation Street.”
“ A utilities company received a call from a customer complaining about the exceptionally high quality of customer service. It was suggested that less money was spent on staff training and the savings put to reducing customer bills.”