Dealing with Your Utility’s Difficult Customers
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- Sep 21, 2020 8:50 pm GMTSep 21, 2020 6:14 pm GMT
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“How come I didn’t get my paper?” a reader barked at me over the phone earlier today.
Since I work in my newspaper’s news department, I had no idea. In measured tones, I explained that to the cranky old guy and offered to give him the number of our circulation department. He immediately accused me of “passing the buck.”
While admittedly struggling to keep my cool, I again explained why I wasn’t privy to his newspaper status and that I wasn’t “passing the buck.” He finally grudgingly accepted my offer of the circulation department phone number (we’re working remotely, so I couldn’t transfer him myself).
So, what’s there to learn from this encounter?
Quite simply, there’s no pleasing some people, and you shouldn’t waste time beyond reasonable efforts to solve a problem.
Given the end in some places of pandemic-related payment moratoriums, it’s fair to say your utility’s customer service reps are going to be busy in the months ahead with angry customers who say they can’t pay their bills.
Problem is, no matter what suggestions you make regarding bill payments (or any other issue, such as ongoing power outages following a weather event), some people are going to remain unhappy.
A lot of people still subscribe to “the customer is always right” theory (especially customers!), but it seems pretty clear that that’s not true.
People worry too much about negative customer feedback, such as Yelp reviews, but those fears are overblown, especially if your utility is otherwise known for good customer service.
Increasingly discerning readers know how to spot unreasonable complaints. Whether it’s the restaurant customer complaining about a steak being undercooked and not getting a different steak (but not saying anything until after they eat 95% of the original offering) or a customer complaining that a utility won’t entirely waive months of utility payments, people can spot a crank a mile away.
So, when it comes to customer service, it’s best to resolve the problem, but remember that there’s no always a solution to every problem – and that’s OK.