Tag Archives: Unhappy Customers

Writing to Unhappy Customers? – Five Points to Note

Customers are often frustrated by perceived insincere responses to their complaints. They feel that writers use template-style messages with meaningless words and phrases without dealing with the real issues.

Here is an example.

Henry’s organisation manages a building with retail shop spaces.

A tenant, Ms Chew, has written in to complain about the noise and dust generated by a neighbouring unit that is undergoing renovation works.

Ms Chew has also asked for a waiver of rental payment for the following month, as she says that her business has been affected.

Henry wrote this reply. What do you think of it?

Dear Ms Chew,

We refer to your email dated 26 April 2018 regarding your request for waiver of the monthly rental for May 2018.

We have taken measures to reduce the noise and dust generated from the renovation works like restricting drilling works to timings outside retail hours. We have also deployed more cleaners around the areas undergoing renovations.

We will send your feedback to the on-site contractors, so that they can further minimise the inconvenciences caused.

We are unable to accede to your request for a waiver of rental as it is unfair to tenants who have duly paid the monthly rental.

Please note that the renovation works should be completed by 10 May 2018, and we seek your patience and understanding in this matter.

Please contact us again if you have further queries.

With Best Regards,

Henry Ho

Customer Relations Executive

_______________________________________________________________

Five Points to Note in Responding to Complaints

(1) State Your Writing Purpose Clearly and Correctly

When Henry stated that Ms Chew’s email was about the waiver of rental payment, it might have missed the point.

Ms Chew may not appreciate being portrayed as someone asking for waiver of rental payment. There were other issues troubling her, and these could be more important than the rental payment.

(2) Show Empathy for the Other Party

In Henry’s message, there was no empathy shown at all for Ms Chew’s difficulties.

Before he explained the actions he had taken, Henry could have shown some empathy. For example, he could have written:

“The noise and dust generated must have been inconvenient and indeed upsetting for you, and I am sorry to hear about that.”

A simple empathy statement like this would demonstrate that Henry was not just writing from his point of view, and that he had actually considered it from Ms Chew’s point of view.

(3) Be Logical and Reasonable When You Reject a Request.

Henry wrote that waiving the rental payment for Ms Chew would be unfair to tenants who have duly paid the monthly rental.

To Ms Chew, this is not even logical. Other tenants are not affected by the noise and dust, so how can the comparison be fair?

We cannot always give the other party what they want. However, we must explain it clearly and logically.

(4) End on a Positve Note.

Henry ended the message by saying that Ms Chew should contact him again if she had further queries.

To begin with, Ms Chew did not have a query, so there cannot be further queries. She had some real concerns to deal with. To describe that with the word “query” can seem dismissive.

This is not a positive way to end the message.

(5) Use Words and Phrases Meaningfully.

In responding to complaints, refrain from using standard templates.

Of course you can cut and paste from an older message, but tailor it carefully to meet the needs of your existing situation. Words and phrases work differently under different circumstances.

For example, the phrase “Please note that…” is commonly used in email writing. However, innocent as it may seem, the phrase actually sounds pompous.

Can’t we just tell the reader something without first asking them to “note” it? It even feels like we are stressing something to someone who is not really paying attention, or who may be a bit slow in understanding.

Do we really want to give that impression to a complaining customer?

________________________________________________________________________

Here is a possible revised message to Ms Chew:

Dear Ms Chew,

Thank you for your email dated 26 April 2018. We are sorry to hear about the situation you are facing.

The noise and dust generated by the renovation works in unit 02-98 must indeed be inconvenient to you, and I can understand your frustrations about this.

We have taken measures to reduce the noise and dust generated by the renovation works. For example, we have now restricted all drilling works to timings outside retail hours.

We have also deployed more cleaners to the areas outside units #02-95 to #02-100, so as to ensure the general cleanliness of these public areas.

At the same time, we will send your feedback to the on-site contractors, so that they can further minimise the inconveniences caused to you in whatever ways possible.

As for your request for a waiver of rental, much as I understand your situation, I am not able to waive your May rental payment.

As you know, most tenants need to undergo some renovation works in their units when they move in. This usually causes some inconvenience to other tenants. As such, we feel that the best way forward would be for all tenants to be patient and understanding in these situations.

The renovation works will be completed by 10 May 2018, and we seek your patience and understanding in the meantime.

Please email or call me at Tel: 6788 8766 if I can be of help in any way.

With Best Regards,

Henry Ho

Customer Relations Executive

________________________________________________________________

What Do Customers Want?

If you work in customer service, you will have encountered unhappy or difficult customers. When a customer becomes angry, demanding or difficult, there is usually a reason for it.

Customers generally expect:

(1) Quality

Terrence Lim was very happy to have secured two tickets to a concert by a popular British singer. He wanted to take his wife, who was a fan, to the concert as a birthday treat.

On the evening of the concert, Terrence and his wife arrived early to avoid the crowds. To their astonishment and disappointment, the gates to the sports stadium, where the concert was held, were all locked till well after the concert commencement time, which was 7 pm.

The gates were only opened at 7.25 pm. By then, the crowds were clamouring to enter the stadium, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. Although Terrence and his wife managed to get to their seats in relatively good shape, their happy and anticipatory feelings earlier on in the evening had all but disappeared.

They were feeling cheated about he amount they had to pay for the tickets, because the event seemed to be so badly managed. They had even felt a little frightened by the jostling crowds at some point.

The quality of the concert, in their eyes, had been marred. It would take a die-hard fan to want to chance buying concert tickets from the company again.

(2) Product knowledge

Let’s take a closer look at the case above. When Terrence and his wife arrived at the concert venue and found the gates locked, he tried to get more information from the staff members who were deployed to help the concert goers and manage the entrance gates. Many other people were doing the same.

The staff members, however, seemed flustered and lost. None of them seemed to know what was going on; all they could do was to apologise and plead with them to be patient.

Although the staff members were unfailingly polite and patient in the face of an impatient crowd, it did not mask the fact that they had no idea what was causing the delay.

However, the people who bought tickets had the expectation that they would know.

(3) Courtesy and Respect

Everyone has esteem needs, and customers are no different. In fact, this need is even more explicit because the transaction is financial in nature.

Enough has been said about customers being irked by the real or perceived disrespect shown by service providers.

Why should you care?

You should care about what customers want and expect, and what makes them unhappy, so that you can respond in a focused and effective manner to their unhappiness.

You do not want to focus on irrelevant issues that do not target the root cause of unhappiness.

When customers complain, you may think that the problem is solved if you give them what they want. However, customers may still feel un-cherished and dissatisfied when a company offers them what they want in an inappropriate manner, or does not address issues that have upset them.

When you deal with an unhappy customer, treat that as a chance to put things right. Don’t be quick to assume that the customer is problematic, unreasonable, or creating extra work for you.

A happy customer can tell ten other persons about their experience with your organisation.

So can an unhappy customer.

Does the Customer Just Want the Bag?

Sometimes, it is easy to assume that customer service is just a financial transaction, especially in areas where the exchange seems simple and straightforward.

Let’s say Sophia buys a bag. When she does that, she would have these expectations:

(1) Quality

In Sophia’s mind, the monetary value of the product must correspond with its quality.

Let’s say she pays $30 for a bag. If, after 3 months of use, it starts to show wear and tear, she may not be too surprised.

Her expectations would be different if she were to pay $100, $200, $500 or $1,000 for the bag.

Whatever the amount, the customer usually has a quality expectation of the product or service purchased. A wise service provider should be clear about this expectation and manage it effectively.

(2) Product Knowledge

Before Sophia buys the bag (or even after she does so), she might want to know more about it.

Where was the bag made? Is it a limited edition? What kinds of materials were used? What production process – was it hand-made? What colours are available? Are returns and exchanges possible?

Customers can become upset or lose their confidence if a service provider cannot manage expectations related to product knowledge.

(3) Courtesy and Respect

Everyone has esteem needs, and customers are no different. In fact, this need is even more explicit due to the financial nature of the transaction.

Customers can be turned off by real or perceived disrespect shown by service providers.

Therefore, in providing service, your words and actions must show respect and courtesy.

What Do These Expectations Mean to Service Providers?

As a service provider, you should care about what customers want and expect, and what makes them unhappy, so that you can respond in a focused and effective manner.

Many customers are left dissatisfied even after you try your best to resolve issues for them. Why?

This is because when customers complain, you may think that the problem is solved if you give them what they want.

However, customers may still feel un-cherished and dissatisfied when a company offers them what they want in an inappropriate manner, or does not address issues that have upset them.

When you deal with an unhappy customer, treat that as a chance to put things right. Don’t be quick to assume that the customer is difficult, unreasonable, or creating extra work for you.

A happy customer can tell ten others about their experience with your organisation. So can an unhappy customer.

 

Writing to Unhappy Customers? – Five Points to Note

Customers are often frustrated by perceived insincere responses to their complaints. They feel that writers use template-style messages with meaningless words and phrases without dealing with the real issues.

Here is an example.

Henry’s organisation manages a building with retail shop spaces.

A tenant, Ms Chew, has written in to complain about the noise and dust generated by a neighbouring unit that is undergoing renovation works.

Ms Chew has also asked for a waiver of rental payment for the following month, as she says that her business has been affected.

Henry wrote this reply. What do you think of it?

Dear Ms Chew,

We refer to your email dated 26 April 2018 regarding your request for waiver of the monthly rental for May 2018.

We have taken measures to reduce the noise and dust generated from the renovation works like restricting drilling works to timings outside retail hours. We have also deployed more cleaners around the areas undergoing renovations.

We will send your feedback to the on-site contractors, so that they can further minimise the inconvenciences caused.

We are unable to accede to your request for a waiver of rental as it is unfair to tenants who have duly paid the monthly rental.

Please note that the renovation works should be completed by 10 May 2018, and we seek your patience and understanding in this matter.

Please contact us again if you have further queries.

With Best Regards,

Henry Ho

Customer Relations Executive

_______________________________________________________________

Five Points to Note in Responding to Complaints

(1) State Your Writing Purpose Clearly and Correctly

When Henry stated that Ms Chew’s email was about the waiver of rental payment, it might have missed the point.

Ms Chew may not appreciate being portrayed as someone asking for waiver of rental payment. There were other issues troubling her, and these could be more important than the rental payment.

(2) Show Empathy for the Other Party

In Henry’s message, there was no empathy shown at all for Ms Chew’s difficulties.

Before he explained the actions he had taken, Henry could have shown some empathy. For example, he could have written:

“The noise and dust generated must have been inconvenient and indeed upsetting for you, and I am sorry to hear about that.”

A simple empathy statement like this would demonstrate that Henry was not just writing from his point of view, and that he had actually considered it from Ms Chew’s point of view.

(3) Be Logical and Reasonable When You Reject a Request.

Henry wrote that waiving the rental payment for Ms Chew would be unfair to tenants who have duly paid the monthly rental.

To Ms Chew, this is not even logical. Other tenants are not affected by the noise and dust, so how can the comparison be fair?

We cannot always give the other party what they want. However, we must explain it clearly and logically.

(4) End on a Positve Note.

Henry ended the message by saying that Ms Chew should contact him again if she had further queries.

To begin with, Ms Chew did not have a query, so there cannot be further queries. She had some real concerns to deal with. To describe that with the word “query” can seem dismissive.

This is not a positive way to end the message.

(5) Use Words and Phrases Meaningfully.

In responding to complaints, refrain from using standard templates.

Of course you can cut and paste from an older message, but tailor it carefully to meet the needs of your existing situation. Words and phrases work differently under different circumstances.

For example, the phrase “Please note that…” is commonly used in email writing. However, innocent as it may seem, the phrase actually sounds pompous.

Can’t we just tell the reader something without first asking them to “note” it? It even feels like we are stressing something to someone who is not really paying attention, or who may be a bit slow in understanding.

Do we really want to give that impression to a complaining customer?

________________________________________________________________________

Here is a possible revised message to Ms Chew:

Dear Ms Chew,

Thank you for your email dated 26 April 2018. We are sorry to hear about the situation you are facing.

The noise and dust generated by the renovation works in unit 02-98 must indeed be inconvenient to you, and I can understand your frustrations about this.

We have taken measures to reduce the noise and dust generated by the renovation works. For example, we have now restricted all drilling works to timings outside retail hours.

We have also deployed more cleaners to the areas outside units #02-95 to #02-100, so as to ensure the general cleanliness of these public areas.

At the same time, we will send your feedback to the on-site contractors, so that they can further minimise the inconveniences caused to you in whatever ways possible.

As for your request for a waiver of rental, much as I understand your situation, I am not able to waive your May rental payment.

As you know, most tenants need to undergo some renovation works in their units when they move in. This usually causes some inconvenience to other tenants. As such, we feel that the best way forward would be for all tenants to be patient and understanding in these situations.

The renovation works will be completed by 10 May 2018, and we seek your patience and understanding in the meantime.

Please email or call me at Tel: 6788 8766 if I can be of help in any way.

With Best Regards,

Henry Ho

Customer Relations Executive

 

 

What Do Your Customers Want?

If you work in customer service, you will have encountered unhappy or difficult customers.

When a customer becomes angry, demanding or difficult, there is usually a reason for it. Customers generally expect:

(1) Quality

Terrence Lim was very happy to have secured two tickets to a concert by a popular British singer. He wanted to take his wife, who was a fan, to the concert as a birthday treat.

On the evening of the concert, Terrence and his wife arrived early to avoid the crowds. To their astonishment and disappointment, the gates to the sports stadium, where the concert was held, were all locked till well after the concert commencement time, which was 7 pm.

The gates were only opened at 7.25 pm. By then, the crowds were clamouring to enter the stadium, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. Although Terrence and his wife managed to get to their seats in relatively good shape, their happy and anticipatory feelings earlier on in the evening had all but disappeared.

They were feeling cheated about he amount they had to pay for the tickets, because the event seemed to be so badly managed. They had even felt a little frightened by the jostling crowds at some point.

The quality of the concert, in their eyes, had been marred. It would take a die-hard fan to want to chance buying concert tickets from the company again.

(2) Product knowledge

Let’s take a closer look at the case above. When Terrence and his wife arrived at the concert venue and found the gates locked, he tried to get more information from the staff members who were deployed to help the concert goers and manage the entrance gates. Many other people were doing the same.

The staff members, however, seemed flustered and lost. None of them seemed to know what was going on; all they could do was to apologise and plead with them to be patient.

Although the staff members were unfailingly polite and patient in the face of an impatient crowd, it did not mask the fact that they had no idea what was causing the delay.

However, the people who bought tickets had the expectation that they would know.

(3) Courtesy and Respect

Everyone has esteem needs, and customers are no different. In fact, this need is even more explicit because the transaction is financial in nature.

Enough has been said about customers being irked by the real or perceived disrespect shown by service providers.

Why should you care?

You should care about what customers want and expect, and what makes them unhappy, so that you can respond in a focused and effective manner to their unhappiness. You do not want to focus on irrelevant issues that do not target the root cause of unhappiness.

When customers complain, you may think that the problem is solved if you give them what they want. However, customers may still feel un-cherished and dissatisfied when a company offers them what they want in an inappropriate manner, or does not address issues that have upset them.

When you deal with an unhappy customer, treat that as a chance to put things right. Don’t be quick to assume that the customer is problematic, unreasonable, or creating extra work for you.

A happy customer can tell ten other persons about their experience with your organisation.

So can an unhappy customer.

Empathising with Unhappy or Disgruntled Customers

When you are responding to a customer complaint, it is important to show empathy.

Empathising shows that you have tried to see things from the customer’s point of view, instead of merely writing a standard reply without taking into consideration what matters to him or her.

Is it easy to show empathy in writing? 

Showing empathy in a face-to-face situation is somewhat easier, as you can use your body language and facial expressions to help you.

In a written response, however, it is more difficult.

Print can come across as cold and hard. If you are not careful, the customer can be easily led to think that you are rude, cold, indifferent or unfeeling.

So how do you show empathy in writing?

Don’t use vague and general statements.

Because empathising takes effort, it is easy and thus tempting to write vague and general statements.

For example, here are some customer complaint situations:

  1. A member signed up for a dancing class at a country club. At the last minute, the class was cancelled, and the member was unhappy about the last minute cancellation.
  1. A customer booked a function room in a hotel and paid a deposit. However, he could not turn up to use the room due to a minor accident. He asked for a refund of the deposit, as he felt that he had a valid reason for not using the room. He was not happy when the hotel could not refund his deposit.
  1. A customer ordered some parts from a supplier. Delivery was delayed, and the customer has complained about it.

For these situations, it would be easy to say: “I can understand your frustration.”

However, this is not specific enough. Does this statement really reflect your understanding of how the customer was inconvenienced or disappointed?

Look at the situation from the customer’s point of view. Really visualise yourself in their position, and see how they might be upset or angry.

By doing so, you will be better able to come up with empathy statements that reflect that understanding.

Here are some examples:

  1. I understand why you are frustrated with the change in schedule. It upsets your plans and creates inconvenience, and you would wish to avoid that if possible.
  1. Your frustration about having to pay for facilities that you did not ultimately use is understandable. It does seem to be such a waste.
  1. We do understand that timely shipment of parts is crucial to your operations, and this delay must have caused you considerable inconvenience.

Does empathy mean agreement?

No, empathy does not mean agreement. It does not say that you are going to give the customer what he or she wants.

It merely shows that you understand how the customer feels, or what is important to the customer.

If you have to reject a request, the empathy statement is all the more important to show that you are not just doing it without careful consideration.

What Are You Selling?

Customer service is one of the most researched and worked-on initiatives in many businesses. Huge amounts of money, manpower and other resources are spent on developing and maintaining customer service. Why then are customers still unhappy?

Many organisations have a “disjointed” process flow. While top management strives to put together an infrastructure to attract and retain customers, people on the frontline very often undo these efforts by being careless in their communication with customers.

Not all customers are difficult to please. In fact, most people set out to look for products and services that they need, and once they make a decision to buy, they make efforts to justify their choice. Very few people buy something and then look for ways to convince themselves that they made a poor decision.

Here is a question to ask yourself when dealing with unhappy customers – What are you selling?

Clean Laundry or Convenience?

Nelly Yeo opened her letterbox one day to receive a promotional brochure from a company providing laundry services.

Nelly had just returned from Beijing, and as it was the winter months in Beijing, she and her family had worn winter jackets that required dry cleaning.

When she returned from her vacation, Nelly was immediately caught up in her work and her two children’s school re-opening. The promotional brochure came at just the right time, thought Nelly.

She called the phone number listed on the brochure and a pleasant lady took her call. She explained that Nelly would have to make a first trip down to their premises to register for the pick-up and delivery service. Nelly was very disappointed and did not pursue the matter.

Why was Nelly disappointed? How did the laundry company lose such a ready customer?

If the company had understood the business they were in, they would have done things differently.

Someone sending laundry out for cleaning is very likely a person who could not or did not want to do it personally, due to a variety of reasons including lack of time or resources. It would be more convenient to outsource this function.

The laundry company, then, is not just providing a cleaning service. They should be looking at selling convenience. If Nelly had to go down personally (even just once) to register, it is not convenient for her. And so the business was lost.

School Bus Service or Peace of Mind?

Jaya Naidu was an IT engineer from India working in Singapore. His ten-year-old daughter, Uma, went to an international school here. Jaya had chartered a school bus that took Uma to and from school each day.

One day, Uma came home from school looking upset. After some probing by her mother, Uma burst into tears and said that the school bus driver had “pushed her hard”.

According to Uma, she and a few other children had become restless during the bus ride home that day, so they got up from their seats and walked about in the bus. The driver, according to Uma, had yelled at them to sit down. When they did not comply, the driver stopped the bus and scolded them. Uma had giggled, and the infuriated driver placed his hand on her shoulder and guided her with some force to her seat.

Jaya phoned the school bus company to report the incident. Being a fair man, he understood that a ten-year-old’s account may not be entirely accurate, so he also wanted to get the bus driver’s account.

The customer service officer who took the call was defensive and reluctant to investigate the incident further, insisting that their bus drivers were all adequately trained to handle the children professionally. She also sounded impatient and disbelieving. Only when Jaya become really upset did she agree to find out from the bus driver what had happened.

By now Jaya was not exactly in an agreeable mood, and insisted on a face-to-face meeting with the management and the driver to sort things out.

How did the customer service officer manage to turn a mildly upset customer, who was open to hearing the other party’s side of the story, into an angry customer who would probably need much more placating?

The school bus company provides a transportation service, but when parents use this service, they are buying more than convenience. On a deeper level, they are also buying safety and peace of mind in knowing that their children are in good hands. When an incident like this happens, it impinges on these deeper needs.

If the customer service officer had understood what her company is really selling, she would rush to assure Jaya that everything possible would be done to find out what had happened. She would also have made an effort to sound helpful and concerned, to assuage any uneasy feelings Jaya might be having.

Beauty Product or Hope?

When a woman customer buys a skincare product or a make-up item, it is obvious that she wants or needs something to enhance her looks. What’s not so obvious is that she is placing hope in this product to make her feel better about herself – she is really buying hope.

A friend once asked a beauty consultant at a shopping mall for three different skincare samples.

She had read about these products in a magazine and was genuinely eager to try them out and select the correct product. The beauty consultant, on the other, was insistent that she could only give out one product sample to each customer.

My friend subsequently wrote in to the brand manager to provide feedback on this situation. She suggested that the company change their policy on product samples to make it easier for customers to make a buying decision.

The reply from the brand manager had this opening statement: “We were informed that you tried to get three product samples from our CityMall Store on 2 May 2014.”

My friend cringed upon reading that. There was no appreciation for her interest, and no attempt to make her feel welcome to try their products. Instead, she was made to feel like a greedy person out to grab freebies.

The reply went on to say that they would “make an exception as a gesture of goodwill” and allow her to have three samples. This was after she received a mini-lecture about how customers (being dimwits) did not know how to use the samples correctly if they had more than one type to try.

My friend was certainly not hopeful that this was where she could buy something to make her feel good about herself.

Understanding the Customer’s Deeper Needs

If you ask a retailer or an employee of a firm what they are selling, they will give you a list of their products or services.

So a beauty consultant will tell you that they sell cosmetics and skin care products. An electronics salesperson will say that they sell electronic appliances. A mobile phone salesperson will tell you that they sell mobile phones. A customer service officer in a bank will tell you that they sell financial products and banking services.

Knowing the tangible products or services one is selling is important. For some products and services, that is enough. For other products and services, however, it is only skimming the surface.

If you take the time to understand more than the surface needs of your customers, you will be better able to understand the emotions that are involved. And this makes it easier for you to focus on what the customer really wants, or what is making him or her unhappy.

Why is Your Customer Unhappy?

Nobody sets out to buy a product or service with a view to being disappointed. It is thus strange to hear comments like, “He just loves to complain!” or “She’s a trouble-maker – always complaining.”

When customers do complain, we need to find out (or try to understand) the cause of the unhappiness leading to the complain.

Look Beyond the Surface Reason When Responding to Complaints

Daniel Lee, a sports enthusiast, received a S$100 voucher from a good friend. Daniel could use this voucher to buy anything below the value of S$100 from a popular sports goods store.

Because Daniel had to travel quite a lot on business, he forgot about the voucher until it was one day overdue. He immediately took it to the store to see if he could get an extension on the expiry date.

The store assistant firmly rejected Daniel’s appeal to use the voucher, even though it was just one day overdue. She methodically informed Daniel that it was against company policy to allow extensions on store vouchers.

A very upset Daniel then wrote a strong letter to complain about the store assistant’s indifferent and inflexible attitude, and also her unwillingness to find out further if there was a possibility that the voucher could be accepted.

What do you think of this email reply from the store manager?

_______________________________________________________________________

Dear Mr Lee,

We have been informed that you tried to use an expired store voucher in our City East Mall store on 12 June 2014.

As our store assistant explained to you, our policy states that we are not to accept expired store vouchers.

However, as a gesture of goodwill, we will make an exception and allow you to use your voucher by 30 June 2014. Please note that we are making an exception for you, and this offer cannot be repeated.

We strive to provide our customers with excellent service, and we look forward to your continued support.

With Best Regards,

Rina Lim

Store Manager

________________________________________________________________________

If you find the tone and style of this message unsuitable, you are absolutely right. It serves only to inform the customer that the voucher can be extended. It does nothing to repair the relationship.

The customer will probably use the voucher before the new expiry date and never visit the store again. Why?

(1)  There is no attempt on the writer’s part to address the underlying cause of Daniel’s unhappiness.

It only addressed his unhappiness on the surface, which is that the voucher, just one day expired, could not be used.

Daniel, however, is also unhappy that the store assistant was haughty, inflexible, and indifferent to his request. The writer should have apologised for these causes of unhappiness.

(2) The writer’s choice of words was also unfortunate.

For example, “We have been informed that you tried to use an expired store voucher…” gives the impression that Daniel had tried to do something unacceptable or even wrong.

“As our store assistant mentioned to you, our policy states that …” implies that Daniel is slow or stubborn, and so they need to reiterate it.

The phrase “we will make an exception and allow you to use your voucher…” is patronising. The word “allow” means “to give permission”.  Do we really want our customers to feel that they need our permission to do something?

And to top it all, the writer wrote “Please note that we are making an exception for you, and this offer cannot be repeated.” Was this meant to pre-empt any attempt on Daniel’s part to try this again?

I am sure that the writer did not mean to be rude, unfeeling, or patronising. It looks like a case of using re-cycled writing.

We have all come across template-style writing with standard, over-used and tired-sounding phrases. Some people call this corporate-speak.

When you do not put thought into your writing, you could write in a cold and mechanical way that ignores the customer’s feelings. The message may have been conveyed, but the customer is left feeling unappreciated or dissatisfied.

Therefore, understand what your customers want and expect, and what could be making them unhappy. When an unhappy customer writes to you, treat that as a chance to put things right.

Never assume that the customer is problematic or unreasonable, or creating extra work for you.