The British are very good at moaning. We are a nation of moaners and complainers, but why do most people never complain in a productive way. Research suggests only 20% of people in the UK make official complaints for bad service. We either moan during or after the occasion to our friends and families or write a bad reviews on social media, but we normally find it too annoying and time-consuming to go down the correct channels. So we do it in an inefficient way. A study came out recently suggesting that over a life time we spend an average of 3 years angry and some of the top reasons were bad customer service, waiting in lines and rudeness. So why don’t we complain more as it seems that we would be happier.
There have been many explanations over the years why the British don’t complain- it isn’t polite, it is considered rude and offensive to others, and it is undignified. What a load of rubbish. That’s what I personally think. As we rarely complain in the correct manner I truly believe that this adds to why we are treated the worst in the world with regards to customer service. On holidays the Brits are often given the worst hotel rooms and worst tables in restaurants as everyone suspects that we will accept it and won’t do anything about it. I think as a nation we love to accept now and moan later.
I don’t complain for the sake of it but as I have mentioned before when I pay for something I expect to receive what I have paid for. If I complain I believe that I always offer constructive criticism for companies and I always give them the opportunity to try to deal with the situation before I put it on social media and take matters further. You should always complain and allow companies to come back with a response. As if you don’t tell them what the problem is in the first place, how can they improve anything. They are not psychic.
So let me give you a few tips about complaining in particular at hotels and restaurants:
- RESEARCH– Before you fly an airline, stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant, shop at a shop, look online at their website to see what you should be expecting. Look at the reviews that they have received on social media, read what is positive and what is negative about them. Also look at the pictures the reviewers have taken. Read the managers response to the reviews, a good manager should respond to a complaint or criticism in a correct way. Reading their response will give you an insight as to how a hotel, restaurant or airline is managed.
- Try to use recognised respected brands- I always think it is good to spend your money at a respected recognised brand when you travel, shop and eat as they have a reputation to uphold. So they don’t want bad press and reviews coming out as it can be problematic for their company and shareholders. You also have a second line of defence as they normally have a head office. So if you can’t get anywhere with them direct you can go above them to the head office. I have outlined a few examples for your reference with hotels- Starwood Hotels, Marriott, Ritz, Hilton, Premier Inn. The same applies to Airlines- Virgin, Easyjet, BA, Emirates. Travel Agents- Kuoni, Thompson, Abercrombie and Kent, Monarch. When you book with a small boutique hotel, apartment or villa, quite often they may be the only one. So they don’t want to part with their cash or compensation. So there is a lot less that can be done. So bare that in mind when booking through a company like that.
- Remind yourself of what you have booked. If you book a certain room category in a hotel, go on to their website to look at the picture of the room that you should be staying in. If there is no picture, I would stay well away as you should be thinking what are they trying to hide. A picture tells a thousand words. Always look at what is included in your room rate as well as the cost for any extras, so you won’t get any surprises when the bill comes. Also it is really important before you arrive to look up the name of the hotel managers in case you need them at a later stage. Forewarned forearmed I say.
- Argue with facts. Make sure your complaint is valid and don’t be rude– If you have a problem on arrival or throughout your stay, argue with facts make sure your complaint is valid. Most importantly don’t be rude as hard as it may be. As the manager will try to use it as justification not to help or compensate you. If you are not happy you should speak up though as you have paid good money for your room or reservation, so you should not accept anything less. You will be happier once you resolve the problem and will be able to enjoy your holiday more.
- Complain to the right person. When complaining always ask to speak to the correct person. This is where so many people go wrong. They tell their story or complaint to someone totally irrelevant who has no authority. Always ask for the manager on duty and if the manager is not available find out when they will be free or leave your number to be called back. A good manager should always come back to you. If they do not contact you, stay on top of them and go above them if necessary to their manager. With regards to staff on reception I know they are nice and try to listen with concern, but their job is to fob you off and stop you getting to the manager. So totally bypass them with any complaints and insist to speak to the manager. Remember managers are the only ones that can make decisions. Don’t speak to the organ grinder go to the top.
- Don’t be worried and intimidated: When complaining don’t be worried or embarrassed you are only trying to get what you have paid for nothing more and this is your right as a customer. Never apologise. So many British start a sentence with ” I am so sorry, but I would like to complain”. Why are you sorry as you are being constructive and helping the company with your feedback and by giving them a chance to make things better.
- Accumulate evidence: I only argue with the facts. If you have pictures and videos, you have evidence. If your room is different to what you booked online show the pictures of what you booked and paid for to the manager and ask why you don’t have that. If the room is dirty, take pictures then show the manager and head of house keeping. Ask them questions like how they feel about having dirt in their rooms or would they be proud for others customers to see this standard. The same applies to restaurants with dirty cutlery, lipstick on wine glasses, a hair in your food, or just badly cooked food. Show the manager, give them a chance to resolve the situation and try to make it better if possible before you take things further.
- Know what you want to achieve. If the manager has tried to resolve the situation and the situation is still not getting resolved, you now need to be compensated in someway. Before you try to negotiate, you need to have an idea of what you would like at the end of it. If it is a hotel- money of the bill or complimentary nights, if it is an airline a partial refund or air miles. If it is a restaurant a complimentary bottle of wine or money of the bill. It all depends on the situation.
- How to negotiate Negotiating compensation can sometimes be easy and sometimes be hard depending on whether the manager takes the complaint personally or professionally. When complaints are not getting resolved, I personally record the conversation on my phone and inform the manager of this, before we start. Quite often you see a total 360 degrees change in their attitude if you record the conversation, as they need to be seen to be dealing with this situation correctly. Start with the facts, go over everything again, show the evidence, explain to them that your time is precious and that dealing with this situation has been a waste of your time. Explain that an enjoyable experience has been ruined because of this situation. You should ask them if this is the experience they are trying to give to their customers. Don’t use the word compensated when negotiating say I want this “reflected in the bill” or “reflected in some way”. This is a great way of asking less aggressively. I also like to ask the to a manager to come back with what they want to give. It is always good for them to start the negotiation, so you know what their starting point is. Don’t be unreasonable in your requests for compensation or they will not go in to a negotiation.
- What if you can’t resolve the situation: Sometimes things can’t be resolved and if you are going around in circles with the manager and they don’t want to compensate you sometimes, you need to wave your white flag until you get home. You then need to look up the contacts for head office. They should have a customer care or customer service department. Either call them or write and e mail with everything that happened, how you were treated and all the evidence you have. Allow them 7 days to comeback as they need to look into what happened. If they don’t come back, follow up with them. Sometimes it needs to be escalated within the customer service department to a manager as again the agents only have limited authority. Normally when it is escalated to head office, you get compensated and get results. Just make sure you have your evidence and document everything in a correct manor then you will get results. Also don’t back down.
If you have any questions about complaints you have received and need advice. Don’t hesitate to ask me. Also if you think someone could benefit from my blog please tag them or share it. Oh and look at my web site to enjoy my other blogs. Thanks Siobhan x