A couple of years ago, one of my colleagues at Vivaldi Software had an annoying problem with his mobile phone connection. So, in a fit of temporary insanity, he decided to call his Telco’s helpdesk to complete a support ticket. After submitting the ticket, he patiently waited for someone to call back with a solution. However, a few days turned into a week, and then into several weeks. 

A couple of years ago, one of my colleagues at Vivaldi Software had an annoying problem with his mobile phone connection. So, in a fit of temporary insanity, he decided to call his Telco’s helpdesk to complete a support ticket. After submitting the ticket, he patiently waited for someone to call back with a solution. However, a few days turned into a week, and then into several weeks.

Finally running out of patience, he called the helpdesk again and was told that one of their support engineers had “closed the ticket”. Not knowing what was happening, he asked the helpdesk operator whether they had found a solution, and what he should do to solve the problem. The helpdesk operator patiently informed him that she was not able to access the technical background information in the helpdesk software! She suggested that he submit a new support ticket if the problem had not been rectified yet... Yes, this is what actually happened; and no, I am not exaggerating!

The story demonstrates the tremendous importance of effective communication when dealing with customer complaints.

It is good practice to send your customers a short letter or an e-mail as soon as you have received their complaint. It shows them that you care, and that you will do your utmost to solve their problem as quickly as possible. In this short but formal note, you can summarize the problem and the circumstances under which the problem arose, and include a reference number. This will help the customer when referring to the case during a follow-up call. It is also a good idea to notify the customer when you have come to important conclusions, or when you have reached certain milestones. Open and fast communication is a key success factor in transforming your disgruntled customer back into a happy one, and it is at least as important as the resolution of the problem itself.