Complaints from a customer’s perspective.

It’s not what you promised!

Customer complaints are part and parcel of running a print shop. You already know this. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t frustrated by complaints when they occur, even when you ought to know better — when you know that the complaint is justified.

I recently saw a business writer identify the cause of most customer complaints (ignoring for now the habitual complainers you can’t do much about) as a disconnect between the customer’s expectation and reality. I like this because it gives me, from a customer’s perspective, simple guidelines by which to convey to you, a textile shop owner, how to avoid my complaints.

So first the “expectation” part. Be absolutely transparent with me about what I might expect from the product. Don’t exaggerate its pros and don’t hide its cons. Give me accurate information of when I might expect delivery. If my expectations as to quality and delivery are not met I’m going to be disappointed and possibly mad. And then you’re going to get a complaint. And you’d better hope I complain so that you can try to keep me as a customer because a high number of customers don’t complain — they just go away and never do business with you again.

Now for the “reality” part. Unfortunately, stuff happens and sometimes, even with the best will in the world, you’ll fail to match reality with my expectations. Then you should hope that I’ll complain so that you can deal with it and retain my business. The secret is to realize that I want a solution, and I want it fast. And assuming that I’m not one of those “nut-job” habitual complainers, you should throw resources at meeting my expectation of a quick solution.

Follow this and we can keep doing business (assuming you want to), but fail to and I’ll probably end up with one of your competitors.

There, that’s a customer’s perspective. But you probably already knew this because you’re a customer too — you just have to keep it in mind when you’re wearing your print shop owner’s hat.