We’re not very good at complaining in the UK. It takes a lot for us Brits to get annoyed and make a fuss. But that’s not helping anyone.
Let me tell you why.
Quite simply, if we don’t complain when we’re not happy, things will never improve. But we don’t do it. I make my living from helping companies better understand their customers and yet I’m culpable too.
We just don’t like to make a fuss. It’s not very British.
Recently I had a bit of a situation. I dropped my iPhone and smashed the screen. The iPhone 6 is a slippery devil, although to be fair I shouldn’t have been using it whilst I was on my bike in the garage. A combination of sweaty hands and a cold handset meant that it was probably destined to land on the floor. Shame it was a concrete one!
A few tweets later and I had the name of a company in Dundee that could repair it. I googled them and found out that they were open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.
So I got up early the next morning and was at their door just before 8am. Which was unfortunate, as the sign on their door said they were open 8.30am to 6.30pm. Why hadn’t they updated the website???
Eventually the doors opened and in I went. I was greeted pleasantly enough and the guy took down some details, punching them into his computer screen. This was when I began to get concerned.
Him – “What number can we get you on, so we can text you when it’s ready?”
Me – “Erm, you’ve got my phone. You won’t be able to text me!”
Him – “We’ll call you too, it’s no problem”.
Me – “But you’ll have my phone…..”.
Him – “Don’t worry, we’ll call and text you to let you know it’s ready”.
Me – “Okay. I’ll call YOU at lunchtime to find out what’s happening”.
D’oh! This wasn’t going well.
I called at lunchtime, no answer. I called back a little later. No, they hadn’t started work on my phone yet. “You can track the progress online if you go to this url”. Okay, that sounds better.
The webpage was awful, really hard to navigate. Turns out you have to click on ‘Invoice’ to get information. Obvs.
Eventually at 17.21 it refreshed. ‘Phone is an iPhone 6S, not a 6’. Well yes, I know that.
17.23 ‘Will cost an extra £25 to do this’.
17.24 ‘We don’t have a 6S screen in stock, so would need to order it’
17.25 ‘Have called customer and left a message’. On the phone that you have. Idiots!!
So now I have to hot-tail it through from Perth to get there in time and collect my (still broken) phone. I’m going to Glasgow the next day and need my phone. This is so frustrating!!!
I get home, google the Apple Store and book a Genius Bar appointment in Edinburgh for the Friday. I’m in Fife anyway, so it’s not a massive hassle to head over the Bridge and get my phone fixed properly.
I go there for my 4.50pm appointment and a very slick process gets my phone fixed within 70 minutes. I’m home by 7.30pm.
So did I complain to the company in Dundee? No, to my shame I didn’t. I just didn’t have the energy. I’ll never use them again and I’ll make a point of telling people about my experience.
But that’s not helping them. They won’t realise how pissed off they made me. How unfriendly their systems & processes are. What it feels like to be the customer, who just wants their phone fixed.
Nope, they won’t learn any of that. And so they’ll just go on delivering a sub-standard service. Because they don’t know how bad their service is.
This experience is happening day in, day out, across the globe. In the USA, people are better at complaining so the service provider gets the feedback and can deal with it. Maybe that’s why the service over there is better?
So if we want to improve experiences then the answer is quite simple. We need to start complaining more!