Been let down by a hair salon, restaurant, plumber or physio? Felt that as a customer you deserved more, but there was little you could do about it? You have more control than you think.
Aim to receive a superior service every time by exercising your power as a consumer.
Control your emotions
You can still communicate your frustration about the problem and come across as a nice person. Take a deep breath and explain your concern in a polite manner that isn’t talking down to the service provider. Remember your body language too. This will create an emotional connection with them. Once they empathise with you, they are more likely to go out of their way to rectify your issue.
Show you’re valuable
Most businesses realise a loyal customer who stays with them for years is worth a lot of money. Signalling to the business owner that you’re likely to become a regular, long-term client will encourage them to work harder to impress you. Once they know you plan to stick with them, watch them pull out all the stops.
Communicate your high expectations
If you’ve come to a business after seeing positive reviews or getting a recommendation, let them know. This sets the bar a bit higher and they won’t want to let you down. You’re also reminding them about the power of word of mouth, and they’ll know you, in turn, might let others know about your experience.
If you’re eating out, let the waiter know what you expect: either that you’re in a hurry and just want a quick meal, or that you’ve been looking forward to relaxing over this meal all day. It gives them a much better chance of delivering the type of service you want. Likewise, explain your budget or any time constraints to a tradesperson before their visit.
It’s human nature to return a favour, so use this to your advantage by giving the service provider something nice. This might be a coffee and a biscuit for the tradie who comes to your house or letting your dentist know that you’ve referred them to some friends, or even just giving a compliment to the barista.
Avoid call centres if possible
Call centres are everyone’s nightmare and yet few people realise they can get their issues resolved faster via live chat, email or website contact forms if these are available — and particularly with the larger service providers. Use live chat as the preferred option — here, customers are never “on hold” and an issue is resolved in real time.
Advise if it’s a special occasion
You’d be surprised the lengths that service providers will go to to impress you when you mention it’s for a special occasion such as a milestone birthday or anniversary. For example, when booking a restaurant let them know you’d prefer their best table as it’s for a birthday and, when you arrive, let them know who the guest of honour is — they’re more likely to receive brilliant service.
When you’re at fault or on the back foot, let the service provider know you appreciate them trying to do something for you even before they do. For instance, instead of “I don’t have the receipt but I need to return this,” try “It’s probably not possible, but thought I’d ask in case there was anything you could do. I bought this last week and I’ve now realised that it’s not suitable. I really appreciate you looking into this.” The first approach is likely to get a “Sorry, but our policy is…,” whereas the second approach might get, “Let’s see — well, I can see it’s our price sticker here and we do carry these…”
Check their reputation
Don’t choose a business blindly or make a decision based on advertising alone. Do a small amount of homework to find out what businesses are really like before you engage them. Ask friends for recommendations or search for reviews on websites like WOMO.com.au. You’ll soon uncover whether the business is in the habit of keeping customers happy.