I’m a ‘people’ person - I thrive on interacting with my fellow mankind …. hmmm, that should be lady womankind, shouldn’t it? Or rather ‘humanity in general?’ I do love having good conversations with most everyone. You learn the most interesting things from other people! But occasionally, some of their stories get, well, let’s just say, too personal.
There’s a new label for that: TMI - Too Much Information. That’s as in the ‘cover your ears and run, you don’t want to hear this part’ of a few conversations I’ve had lately. Hard to maintain composure when dealing with customers like that, but customer service is the number one priority in any business.
I was taught while in the airline biz: “Smile through everything. Smile when people speak with their mouths full and accidentally send a bit of food your way. Smile when someone freaks out and tries to open a cabin door at 35,000 feet (that’s as in smile while wrestling them to the ground).”
By the way, that really happened, and to me. So I’ve learned to smile a lot. It really does help!
A company in the United Kingdom actually surveyed over 200 customer service professionals, asking them to detail the funniest, most unusual, or seemingly outrageous customer complaints they have received in recent years.
Here are the top 10 in Retail and Holidays:
1) A customer phoned to complain following the delivery of a curtain pole. On finding no one home, the driver decided it would be possible to still deliver the pole - through the door’s letterbox. When the customer returned they found their dog pinned by his collar to the wall.
2) Following the purchase of a dishwasher, a customer returned to the store and announced: “The dishwasher is quite obviously faulty – when set to wash, water sprays, but the plates don’t spin.”
3) 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 apologized for trying to falsely obtain compensation.
4) A customer complained that the ham he’d purchased was unreasonably salty. The retailer said he would receive a full refund on the return of the remaining ham. The customer said this “would be impossible.” He’d managed to eat the remaining two pounds of offending ham.
5) A supermarket customer complained that his bill was wrong. The assistant explained that a number of in-store discounts had been applied, hence the lower than expected bill. The customer would not accept this and insisted on speaking to the manager. Despite further explanation, the customer could not be appeased until it was accepted that he was right and “allowed” to pay the higher total.
6) On receiving a call advising that her contact lens order was in early and could be collected, the customer complained to the head office, suggesting that the ‘overzealous’ ordering system was akin to high-pressure selling.
7) A customer threatened to escalate his complaint, adamant that his phone should have withstood a full wash cycle. The label sewn to his jacket pocket clearly stated that the pocket was “fully waterproof.”
8) A television was returned because the picture was not clear. On being told he was required to remove protective film from the screen, the customer insisted that at no point during the sales process had he been told he’d be required to do this and insisted on a full refund, plus compensation for his wasted time.
9) An insurance company received a call following an incident in a hired camper. It claimed that a crash and the resulting damage to the interior and exterior of the camper was the result of a faulty auto-drive system. In his claim, the customer stated: “I put the vehicle into auto-drive and walked to the rear of the vehicle, only to be thrown off my feet, flinging fresh coffee against the wall and cabinets as the auto-drive failed and took us, at some speed, into the bushes.”
10) On return from a camping holiday on an approved “farm stay” site, a holiday visitor requested a full refund stating their holiday had been ruined by the “intrusive noise of cows mooing.”