Jump to content

Taking negative customer feedback


Recommended Posts

Hi all - this is a vent/request for general advice. This year, I started working for a company. For simplicity, let's say they make catapults. I am not on the catapult sales team, but after the customer buys a catapult, I go and teach them how to use it and if there are problems with its use, I try to troubleshoot (is it something that the customer is doing wrong or is the catapult broken?) Today, my coworker told me that the sales guy made a new catapult sale at High Garden, but then the new customer (I'll call her Sansa) said that she used to work at another company (River Run) and when I performed a training there, it was terrible, I didn't know what I was talking about, and that I'm an idiot and I was on my phone the whole time. I was very confused to hear that because I have no clue who Sansa is and while I was at River Run recently, it was for a more technical reason (catapult installation inspection) and I didn't give any trainings, I didn't interact with Sansa, I only worked with Arya for a few questions. I was on my phone replying to emails while I was waiting for the engineers to complete the installation. To be honest, Arya was a pain in the butt as a customer, nothing was quite good enough, even though I was trying to explain that the catapult was set up perfectly. To appease her, I even provided free (expensive!) materials so she could test that the catapult worked and I followed up with her and she confirmed it worked fine. I also told my manager that Arya was a pain to work with.

 

So I have a phone call tomorrow with the sales guy to try to straighten this out. I seriously don't even know who Sansa is, but apparently she thinks I'm an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about, and now I need to teach her how to use the catapult? My coworker can cover for me, but he is already slammed with work and I live much closer than he does to High Garden. It sounds like Arya bad-mouthed me to Sansa and now I can either pass this off to my coworker, or go in and hope that Sansa has an open mind about my skills.

 

Help?!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 118
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

So the idiot is probably Arya, who maybe worked for Sansa and blamed you when she couldn't make sense of the catapult? I think what you do depends on how confident you are in your understanding of the catapult and any questions about the catapult. If you think you got it down and Sansa is not requesting someone else, then maybe go reclaim your reputation? And turn your phone off during the question/answer session.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

OK I got confused with all the obvious changed names, but here's my advice.

 

First of all, I'm in a sales position, and I work with people such as yourself, who help with the training. So I do sort of understand the situation.

 

You have a phone call with the sales guy tomorrow, and how to approach it?

 

I sell a group of products that is highly technical and has extremely specific user instructions. As in, certain things have to occur for a certain number of seconds. Ten extra seconds can cause failure; 5 seconds too few can cause failure. Many times, my "customer" simply needs more guidance as to product usage. These are not idiots who can't get it right, as I look at is as my job to explain it properly.

 

Here's what not to do: Bash the customer. Never ever ever complain about a customer to your company. I don't care how much of a pain any of your customers are; unless they are asking things that are illegal, unethical, or immoral, you should never talk bad about them. They are the ones buying "catapults"; they are the reason you all have jobs.

 

Approach it from a place of curiosity. Simply ask questions. Listen to the answers. Listen to the sales guy. Don't get defensive. Don't deflect by placing blame on the customer.

 

Know what? It irritates me to no end when someone is trying to do business with me, but they are on their phone. I don't care if they're waiting, answering emails, or whatever. You are there to do a job for them. Be present. Turn your d*mn phone off and put it in your bag. Rant over about that.

 

You will never lose by asking questions and listening to the answers. Don't listen and just wait for your turn to respond. If possible, say nothing, but absorb the responses.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

When it comes to some customers, sometimes they can never be pleased or happy.

 

Is the co-worker you're speaking with tomorrow a reasonable person? Maybe you'll have a better idea of what to do once you speak with him and hash out what happened and what was said.

 

If your co-worker goes to High Ground instead, or if you go and Sansa complains, can this affect your job in any way?

 

I'm hoping it's you that attends High Garden, though. Don't let these customers push you around.

 

You know what you're doing, so I'd go to High Garden, play dumb in terms of what you heard they said about you (act as if you didn't hear anything at all), be friendly, professional, and do your thing.

 

Just whatever you do, and regardless of how much what they said irks you, take the high road.

 

You can't please everyone and sometimes people will find anything and everything to b**** about.

 

Good luck, Annie!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks LHGirl for that perspective. I see where you are coming from. From my point of view, I was there as a "help" for the engineers and not engaged in a customer training session, so I tried to keep myself occupied. This situation was also a little different than usual because it was the end of quarter and for the revenue recognition, the timeline had to be hurried up (hence why I was sitting around waiting for a few hours for the engineers to finish, rather than coming in on another day.) But in the future, I can definitely watch how much I am pulling out my phone. But because of the nature of my job, most of my work is done through work/email. Other customers are contacting me all the time with their other questions.

 

I'm a bit frustrated and confused because the sales guy also came to my co-worker instead to me directly (he knows my coworker better than me), so I have this third-hand story that i've tried to piece together. When he said that Sansa used to work at River Run and said that I did a bad job at that training, I was very confused because 1) I have no record of meeting Sansa, and 2) I didn't do a training at River Run. Sansa said in front of her boss that she didn't want to pay us for the catapult, because although we shipped it and installed it, she wasn't sure if it would work with the things she was planning to throw. This was a very awkward conversation for me because we shipped the product, we installed it, I showed it worked, but not to her liking. :/ And it being the end of quarter, there was a lot of pressure on me to get the signature by the end of the day.

 

On Sansa's end, their previous catapult they purchased with us works, but it had a lot of technical problems this year and it needed to be fixed multiple times, so I am sure they are hyper-sensitive to anything going wrong on the new one.

 

Dundermifflin - I definitely know my stuff. I literally have a PhD in catapults, so I am very confident. Now, I definitely don't know everything and i will gladly admit that and if I don't know an answer for a customer, I will go look it up, or refer them to a more knowledgeable coworker.

Link to post
Share on other sites
When it comes to some customers, sometimes they can never be pleased or happy.

 

Is the co-worker you're speaking with tomorrow a reasonable person? Maybe you'll have a better idea of what to do once you speak with him and hash out what happened and what was said.

 

If your co-worker goes to High Ground instead, or if you go and Sansa complains, can this affect your job in any way?

 

I'm hoping it's you that attends High Garden, though. Don't let these customers push you around.

 

You know what you're doing, so I'd go to High Garden, play dumb in terms of what you heard they said about you (act as if you didn't hear anything at all), be friendly, professional, and do your thing.

 

Just whatever you do, and regardless of how much what they said irks you, take the high road.

 

You can't please everyone and sometimes people will find anything and everything to b**** about.

 

Good luck, Annie!

 

If my coworker goes to High Garden instead of me, we would have to tell our boss why. I think that an accumulation of complaints would catch his notice. Our company prides itself on good customer service and we take negative comments seriously. I am actually going out to an account next week because the customer is unhappy with some of the service they have received and I've been asked to go meet with them in person and try to figure out what is going on.

 

If I go to High Garden, I will definitely be polite and pleasant and give them a good training, and hopefully they would realize that Sansa's assessment of me was incorrect.

 

I went to my company's customer service training and we talked about handling customer complaints, I should go back and read, but this is kind of one of the situations that's frustrating because I've kind of had to piece together what the situation is. It's not like it's something super obvious to me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I sell a group of products that is highly technical and has extremely specific user instructions. As in, certain things have to occur for a certain number of seconds. Ten extra seconds can cause failure; 5 seconds too few can cause failure. Many times, my "customer" simply needs more guidance as to product usage. These are not idiots who can't get it right, as I look at is as my job to explain it properly.

 

I certainly don't think that they are idiots. I know that they are experts at what they do, and I hope that they would recognize that in me as well, but it sounds like I didn't make that impression? I definitely was not there treating them like idiots. But it got a bit frustrating when I was trying to explain to them that the product worked as promised from our end and that the results were extremely good. And they were like, "yeah, but will it work with our purpose?" That's when I sent them the extra materials for free so they could test it themselves. But how many other products in life do you not pay for until you like the results? Officially, we sell materials based on what we promise, we can't sell things based on what they have in their mind.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe the one who thinks you are an idiot doesnt actually know who you are, perhaps she mistook you for another person.

 

Yeah, that will be a conversation I will have with the sales guy tomorrow. My coworker told me that he was confused when the sales guy told him the complaint because he was like, "Annie didn't perform a training at River Run." Then my coworker showed me the name of the person who complained, and I had no idea who that was, so it really took a while to try to piece it together? I guess I will know tomorrow and we can figure out how to fix it. They didn't know my name either, they just said, "The girl who was here last month."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Melancholy makes a good point. Further to that, these types of situations are dangerous/sticky because it's like the game telephone. Some message about someone is passed from one person to the next, and not only do you question who or what they're talking about, but by the time this message has reached your ears, who knows if the message you are receiving is what was intended.

 

If anyone from High Garden took issue with the training, they should have contacted you directly and asked for clarification.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Know what? It irritates me to no end when someone is trying to do business with me, but they are on their phone. I don't care if they're waiting, answering emails, or whatever. You are there to do a job for them. Be present. Turn your d*mn phone off and put it in your bag. Rant over about that.

 

Ironically, after all that today, I got another call from my coworker telling me that Cersei (another coworker) needs me to return her emails. I hadn't replied to any emails in the last 2 days because.... I had been at customer sites. I had my away message up too. You can't win sometimes.....

Link to post
Share on other sites
Melancholy makes a good point. Further to that, these types of situations are dangerous/sticky because it's like the game telephone. Some message about someone is passed from one person to the next, and not only do you question who or what they're talking about, but by the time this message has reached your ears, who knows if the message you are receiving is what was intended.

 

If anyone from High Ground took issue with the training, they should have contacted you directly and asked for clarification.

 

Yeah, I agree, the game Telephone is no fun. I remember back in high school, someone spread some rumor about me, and the by the time it came back to me, the grain of truth in there was spun into some bigger, totally incorrect thing. I really hate the rumor mill for this reason. Or anytime someone tells me something nasty about someone else, I really kind of temper it in my head.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Ironically, after all that today, I got another call from my coworker telling me that Cersei needs me to return her emails. I hadn't replied to any emails in the last 2 days because.... I had been at customer sites. I had my away message up too.

 

Does your away message give a timeframe of when you'll get back? And can you follow up with a quick customized response to Cersei (and others) saying you got their message, you are tied up out of the office, and will get back to them about XYZ by such-and-such a date? (Can you give an alternate person for them to contact if there is something more urgent?)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Does your away message give a timeframe of when you'll get back? And can you follow up with a quick customized response to Cersei (and others) saying you got their message, you are tied up out of the office, and will get back to them about XYZ by such-and-such a date? (Can you give an alternate person for them to contact if there is something more urgent?)

 

I just replied to Cersei tonight and told her my plan. I don't have a time frame but that is a good point. I have 2 away messages - one for customers and one for coworkers. Both have other people to contact. Cersei reached out to both my coworker and I to ask, I guess he had already given his answer but I literally had no time to reply to her until tonight. I am going on an international vacation soon and I will not check my work emails at all, so I need to make that clear in my away message. I will probably tell them I am in xxxx country, I will have no internet access, please contact .....

Link to post
Share on other sites
My coworker told me not to feel badly and not to take it personally - he said some customers will always be unhappy no matter what, and others will think you are awesome and amazing even when you didn't do a great job.

 

Your coworker sounds like a good person. What they told you is gold and it's nice to know that you have their support.

 

Plus, I'm sure your coworker has been in and will be in the same position as you (i.e. - having to deal with customer complaints made about them), so they can relate and empathize with what you're going through.

 

There will always be a customer complaining, regardless of how hard you work.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The one thing I have always hated are these really rushed deadlines, like rushing for things to be done before the end of quarter so that the sales go through. It just makes everything stupid. I mean, I understand from a business perspective why it was done. But then the customer is sitting wondering why I was cutting corners (aka, doing a bare minimum testing instead of more extensive testing that I would do under other circumstances). But I was doing that because of the end of quarter deadline so sales could meet the financial projections. I'm starting to dread the last week of the quarter. I've been warned that the end of the year will get hairy too.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Your coworker sounds like a good person. What they told you is gold and it's nice to know that you have their support.

 

Plus, I'm sure your coworker has been in and will be in the same position as you (i.e. - having to deal with customer complaints made about them), so they can relate and empathize with what you're going through.

 

There will always be a customer complaining, regardless of how hard you work.

 

yeah, he is dealing with that himself right now and our boss might have to get involved - a customer was having a problem and he suggested they change 6 things. And now things are working and the customer wants to know why it is working now and he doesn't have a really good answer for them and the customer is not ok with that as an answer. I understand the customer's perspective - they want to prevent a similar problem in the future. From my coworker's perspective, he's not watching them 40 hours a week so he can't always pinpoint what they did right this time because they took all 6 of his suggestions.

Link to post
Share on other sites
yeah, he is dealing with that himself right now and our boss might have to get involved - a customer was having a problem and he suggested they change 6 things. And now things are working and the customer wants to know why it is working now and he doesn't have a really good answer for them and the customer is not ok with that as an answer. I understand the customer's perspective - they want to prevent a similar problem in the future. From my coworker's perspective, he's not watching them 40 hours a week so he can't always pinpoint what they did right this time because they took all 6 of his suggestions.

 

Hmmmm, you'd think the customer would know how they fixed the problem if they applied your coworker's six suggestions.

 

Man, dealing with customers can be so draining. You're trying to do your job, appease your employer, and ensure that the customer's needs are being met, and they don't always have realistic expectations, and think that their matter is the ONLY matter that you have on your plate.

 

I've found that, as long as your employer and coworkers are understanding in terms of how unreasonable some people can be, it does relieve a lot of stress.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmmmm, you'd think the customer would know how they fixed the problem if they applied your coworker's six suggestions.

 

Man, dealing with customers can be so draining. You're trying to do your job, appease your employer, and ensure that the customer's needs are being met, and they don't always have realistic expectations, and think that their matter is the ONLY matter that you have on your plate.

 

I've found that, as long as your employer and coworkers are understanding in terms of how unreasonable some people can be, it does relieve a lot of stress.

 

I guess they are wondering which one of the 6 suggestions did the trick? As true scientists, they should have done one change at a time, but that would cost unnecessary amounts of money and time.

 

River Run is known in our company to be difficult, so I guess in a sense, getting negative feedback from them isn't as bad as getting it from some of our nicer customers because then it would be like, "wow, you must have really done something wrong to tick them off." Some customers are easy going even when everything is on fire and I am wondering why they are not yelling at us, and then others, if the some tiny little thing is wrong, (or their results are good and they don't know why), they will complain.

 

I'm still learning how to navigate these things - this is my first job out of academia, and things are very different in industry.

Edited by annie24
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just do what you do in the most professional competent manner you usually deliver. Don't kiss this customers butt or treat the situation any differently than the usual excellent service you provide. Don't avoid this customer. Ignore the cranks and gossips. Who cares? Some people will always be unhappy or dense or nasty.

now I can either pass this off to my coworker, or go in and hope that Sansa has an open mind about my skills.
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a phone call with the sales guy and my coworker this afternoon. The sales guy told me what Sansa told him and I told the sales guy what happened when I was at River Run last week. Sansa specifically asked that I do not lead the training. The sales guy said he wanted to talk to me directly about it, instead of my manager, because many years ago, when he had my job (but at a different company), he was almost fired over a similar misunderstanding. Yeah, so basically, Sansa's impression of me was that she does not want me to do her training because she thought I didn't know what I was talking about and I was always on my phone. I told the sales guy what happened and he said he understood but sometimes these things happen (misunderstanding/perceptions/etc). I told him I never even spoke with Sansa, I only spoke with her colleague Arya, but I explained the entire situation. We decided that when Sansa needs training at her new job at High Garden, both my coworker and I will go in and he will lead the training and I will hang out in the background and add in my expertise and experience when I can (and keep the phone strictly away!) I asked if I should tell my manager anyway about what happened, they said no, the sales guy strongly said no, because this can be a serious offense so best to handle it quietly. So, this makes sense to me. The sales guy thinks that it will blow over soon. I was wondering what happens if they have a question and I need to go in 3 months. He said that I should take my coworker with me again, to protect myself, so that there is a witness if they try to go to my manager with a complaint.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...