As the title suggests this is not a post to help you become a serial complainer but a more efficient one. Every week, I read comments on social media forums, and frankly; some of the stories baffle me. When it comes to traveling, people nowadays rant and rave about anything and from making it often hard to distinguish between what is relevant and what is utterly trivial. John Heald’s blog is an excellent example- filled with cruisers’ wild complaints ranging anywhere from cabin malfunctions to itinerary misunderstandings (one lady complained about the ship not stopping in Morocco even though Carnival’s literary explicitly listed Monaco.)
So the question arises is when and how should you complain if something during your vacation does go wrong.
While the incident unfolds to make sure you collect as much information as possible by taking pictures or videotape with your cell phone and writing down the names of the people involved. You should continue recording any further attempts you make to contact the company in your quest to settle the matter, including the names of customer service representatives; their locations and e-mail or phone information.
Sleep on it
Let your initial anger subside and don’t run to complain immediately after the incident happened (unless the issue is time sensitive.) Complaining in calm tone will gain you more listening time and sympathy than screaming, yelling and sounding incoherent will.
Analyze the situation
Replay in your mind what happened and carefully examine the outcome asking yourself whether anything could have been prevented by your action or by those representing the company. Moreover, in whatever happened you need to assess how much of the incident could be attributed to equipment malfunction versus human error or bad customer service.
Write down your grievances
What you were taught back in elementary school still applies -organize your thoughts and write down a skeleton detailing your complaint. This way, you will not only sound coherent when you describe the incident to the customer representative but will help you recount your story with fluency and ease to supervisors or others who might get involved without missing relevant facts.
Assess your inconvenience
You should always assess on a scale of one to ten the intensity and duration the incident had on you and your travel companions. My rule of thumb is to let things slide (and not complain) unless the incident score is above four, especially with companies that have provided me with satisfactory service in the past. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind many businesses do keep some form of documentation when it comes to complaints, and that by the end of the day, you don’t want to be pegged as a nuisance or serial compensation seeker.
Come up with a comp scenario
The travel industry is called the hospitality industry for a reason- most companies are not in the business of intentionally trying to anger, frustrate or turn you away. Travel companies want customers, especially returning customers to be satisfied and further recommend them so you will find an individual willingness on their part to ‘work with the client.’ Hence, you should come up with a negotiable dollar amount for whatever incident you have incurred, which should be the sum of your ‘grievance score’.With that said, remember most companies will be more open to the concept of giving you future discount coupons or vouchers than cold hard cash.
Don’t turn it into a personal attack
Whether you decide to communicate with the said company via social -media on Twitter and Facebook or via e-mail and phone, always keep in mind you are talking about company employees doing their job so don’t take anything personally and keep your tone respectful at all times.
Take it to the higher-ups
Sometimes things don’t get resolved on the first try, so it pays to persist if you feel you’ve been wronged. You should call again and ask to talk to a supervisor or higher-up.Don’t forget to mention the documentation you have that can back up your story further and convince the service rep you are not just another serial complainer.
Most complaints get solved by following the above steps, but there is always that percentage of cases that, for some reason, go wrong. However, in today’s digital world all is not lost by sharing it on social networks, tweeting about it or posting a video on Youtube your rant might even go viral.