I had to drop Wix (the online website builder for those that wish to build really rather good website, without spending squillions) an email - sorry, a "ticket" - about some subject or the other and received what I originally thought, was a standard reply.
"I don't think I explained myself properly" I retorted (I always think this is a much better thing to say than: "Look, you eegits..."). A little later, I received another reply saying that the original reply did answer my question; which, when I read it, did. My question, therefore, is why did I not read the original response?
We have all had issues with complaints. There is the standardised response, popular among airlines, about how customers service is important to them, how important you are to them.... How safety, staff training are important and how putting the cat out no later than 21:00 each evening is important.
Then there is the Millenial: "Hi! Richard" opening to communications, rather than the more acceptable: "Dear Mr. (or Mrs or Ms) Smith". The overt, assumed initial familiarity, with me, particularly grates. One can imagine the response from Buckingham Palace for any communication that started: "Hi! Phil..." Remember, firms, today's Millenials, GenY or whatever you wish to call them, are tomorrow's grumpy pensioners (or "silver surfers")
Before we are able to email, many firms have the forced meander through the FAQ section of their website; which FAQ's invariably do not cover what you wish to complain about. Logically, FAQ's never will, as presumably if a query has made FAQ's then it is reasonable to assume that whatever the problem was that created any given FAQ has long since been fixed or, if it is, say, a personal issue, then unless all firms knows the intricate details of the life of everyone on the planet, again, you won't find your answer in their FAQ's.
Such FAQ systems that there are, do not seem to me to be very intuitive. Dare I say it, Format Finder in Sabre has its moments. Some FAQ's (like Format Finder at times) need you to permutate variations on your actual question to even get close to possible answers.
Assuming any communication is a complaint, is another issue. I wrote to Easyjet some time ago and received a standard response of "We are sorry to hear of your complaint" - it wasn't a complaint. At the time, I was praising one of their check-in staff who handled a rather difficult situation extremely well.
Getting back to Wix, the reason I had not read the original response was due to the standardised "look and feel" of the response, which seemed to be a cut-and-paste from their FAQ's. This is another issue with responses. Cut the marketing fluff and get to the nub of the matter. If the respondent had preceded their response with something like: "I have read your question and this is how to fix it", I would have read on. As the look and feel was highly standardised, I had not bothered.
Long reference numbers in responses to complaints. This is really a no-brainer. You write a letter/ email/ make a call and you get back: "Your complaint has been given the reference: 3375583/ 445937" which is the response I received, once, from an online retailer, who were, their website said: "a small independent family firm" Small? You get that many complaints? And you want me to shop with you again?
Social media has become a very important channel for resolving issues - or even, just for forming a much stronger bond between customer (end user) and supplier. It is, however, quite marked in that there are those airlines that "get" social media and those that don't. The clue is in the title - "social" media. Social is a two way thing, any organisation that regards social media as purely for one way traffic (e.g. advertising) is doing themselves more harm than good.
British Airways "get" social media in a big way as does (to my surprise) Jetblue and so do many other airlines (these, though, have been two airlines I have dealt with recently (there are others!) on Twitter and I have been pleasantly surprised at the speed of communication and too, the quality.)
Then there is Facebook. Personally, I don't really "get" Facebook as much as others don't "get" Twitter. That said, Facebook is another channel for listening to (note the use of the word "listening") and trying to resolve any issues. Again, though, the reliance is that firms that wish to be out there on social media, heed the use of the word "social". The answer as to why there is a better response through social media in general, is obvious. If you write a letter or email, then only you and your interlocutor know the content. Report an issue on social media then you and depending on how many followers you have, know the issue. Add a hashtag, and the whole world knows.
As much as any organisation would like to revert to a system where complaints are not universally published, there are two major upsides to washing the dirty linen in public. Firstly, that as many people can see the resolution (and how the resolution is achieved) as can see the compliant and secondly, if an issue is ongoing, the organisation on the receiving end, is more likely to get it fixed, if not greatly ameliorate, any issue (e.g. United Airlines).
I fixed my Wix issue in about 10 minutes, by the way, after having read their initial, correct, response.