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Types of Retail Complainers and How to Solve Their Problems


They are the bane of the retail sector. Salespeople have found their Zen from forcing an enlightened smile onto an incredulous face while others have lost their minds and their jobs in the face of the chronic complainer. It is understandable to be upset when a product does not perform as promised, but some people complain at any departure from their expectation. These serial complainers come in various types, all of which can annoy the innocent sales clerk. But, they can be dealt with in various ways.

The Joker

This type of complainer seems innocent enough, joking and laughing while delivering the complaint, but still can be detrimental to your organization. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, humorous complaints are less likely to receive redress, but serve as a strong medium for replicating the criticism on communication media. The joke plays well on social media, painting a negative picture of the company, but is not significant enough to make the complainer happy.

Instead of brushing the joke aside, the smart customer service representative needs to recognize the joke as a veiled threat to the company and assign it the importance that is due.

The Blame Thrower

When a product fails, research shows that assigning and receiving blame makes the user feel better about the product and its company. This does not hold true when the consumer is at fault. In these situations, blame throwing reflects poorly on the company, even if the organization is not in the wrong. This type of complainer feels guilty about misusing the product and fears that the company will be angry.

Before exploring a solution for the blame thrower, the customer care rep needs to let the customer off the hook. Let the customer know that the situation happens all the time and it is the rep’s job to fix the product. Reassure the fearful customer by diffusing any blame, then come up with solutions that will make everyone happy.

The Not Complaining Complainer

Scientists have identified three behaviors for customer dissatisfaction: no complaint, communication complaint and action complaint. The last two are beneficial and useful grievance modalities that let your customer care staff work toward a happy solution. But, the no complaint response does not have this advantage.

For the unhappy non-complainer, it is the customer service department’s job to tease out a complaint and the appropriate solution. A robust customer service platform can help with this. Give your customer several different channels to address their dissatisfaction, including nonthreatening automated communication services.

The Not Wrong Complainer

The expression that the customer is always right holds true for complaining behavior. Understanding the preconceived ideas of the consumer can go a long way toward creating a content customer. Research on telecommunication companies shows that the belief a customer has going into the conversation can affect the way that the complaint is solved. If the person believes there is a solution to the problem, the complainer is more inclined to look for that solution. This is a powerful marketing tool for the company.

Use social media to let consumers know that your company is committed to the happiness of the customer, so they believe this before having a problem. This way they are willing to come to you with any problems and a solution can be found.

Posted on May 7th, 2015 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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