Services Marketing Mini Case: The customer’s right? Solution

In this case, the options for an unsatisfied customer are:

  1. seek redress directly from firm
  2. take legal action
  3. complain to business, private or governmental agencies
  4. stop buying product or brand or boycott service provider
  5. warn friends

What should also be noted here is that of all the responses an unsatisfied customer can take, option 1, seeking redress directly from the firm, is the preferred option.  Companies would generally prefer unsatisfied customers contact them rather than other organizations or warning friends. This should highlight how important it is for companies to “develop a ‘complaints as opportunities’ culture”.

Q: What factors contributed to Maree’s sense of annoyance and frustration?

It should be noted that Maree was frustrated initially from a service failure (or at least a perceived service failure), however the clerk’s attempt at recovery only made the situation worse.  The factors that contributed to her annoyance were:

  • Not getting her mail in the first place
  • Possible lapsing insurance policies and credit card penalties (that she believed were not her fault)
  • Waiting in line for 20 minutes
  • Being told they would have to return to original post office to make complaint
  • Being told it was “…clearly your fault. There’s nothing I can do to help.”
Q2. How might the post office clerk have better handled the encounter with Maree and Tony?

The post office clerk should not have been so confrontational and unhelpful.  Laying the complete blame on the customer and stating that there is nothing that can be done to help is just not constructive and not good recovery technique.  Instead the clerk should have empathized with Maree and Tony, showing understanding and sympathy for their situation, and then attempted to make sure that future mail would go to the correct address.  Looking at points 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 from pages 139 and 140 show what should have been done.

Also, the Post Office’s systems are partly to blame for the annoyed customers.  Long waiting times and inflexible complaint mechanisms (having to go back to the original store) further exacerbate the problem instead of fixing it.

Additional Mini-Case question:

It may also be interesting to ask yourself what Maree and Tony could have done to better handle the encounter.  Most people will find themselves in a similar situation where they become so angry that they lose sight of their goals and make the situation worse by pushing the service employee into becoming defensive and unhelpful.  Of course, had Maree and Tony completed the initial form correctly, then the problem may have been avoided altogether, but given the mistake, Maree’s fury towards the clerk pressed him/her to adopt a defensive position.  Remaining calm but firm is a better strategy.

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