TODAY   |  June 12, 2013

Constructive ways to make customer complaints

When you experience bad customer service, there’s a right and wrong way to make a complaint. Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo and TODAY contributor and etiquette expert Harriet Cole explain the tactics you should use to fight constructively and get what you want.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> have you ever had bad service at a restaurant? maybe you waited that four hour window for the cable guy , never shows? or an airline damaged your luggage and then refused to pay up or lost your luggage?

>> there's always reasons to complain but there's a right way to do it so get what you want. elizabeth lombardo is the author of a happy you, your ultimate prescription for happiness and we also have our good friend here hanging out. the deal here is you want to try to get your best service but it's not happening. what's your first move?

>> the first thing to do is check your stress. stress goes from 0 to 10 and if it's a 7 or higher we're not going to come across the way we want. take a deep breath and say it in a respectful way.

>> is there a right way versus a wrong way. to use an example there was a customer at dunkin donuts recently in florida who recorded herself yelling at an employee that didn't give her the free food she was expecting after she made an order and it didn't get to her on time -- she didn't get a receipt rather. wrong to record yourself in that situation.

>> everybody records themselves these days. you can expect to be recorded. for the restaurant, the best thing is to squash it as quickly as possible. with a smile on your face say how can i help you and do your best to help. if someone is irate and it's spiraling out of control and you cannot help to calm them down. you get help, you go to the manager and in a case like that which was very extreme you might even have to call the police. but the first line of defense is to do your best to take care of the person.

>> what if you go up to the airline counter, you kill them with kindness . that's the first instinct and you get shut down with fern. i can't help you. it's impossible. it's not going to happen. what's the recourse of that.

>> there's a difference in aggressive and assertive. assertive is respectful but aggressive is attacking. let them know what you need and why you need it. it's my daughter's birthday today i'm trying to get back. i get that it's businey for you.

>> humanize the situation. talk human being to human being . pull at the heart strings . be sincere but when you sincerely pull at the heart strings people begin to listen and that person in the airport probably has 100 people saying i need this, i need this. if you're everyothinking about them too it can help.

>> what about outing people for bad behavior publicly. for example chefs here in the new york area are outing the names of customers that make a reservation and then don't show up for the reservations?

>> what does that serve them? those people will never come back.

>> what does that say to other customers too who see that and say.

>> i think that's not going to work unless it's the most popular restaurant in the world and they're so snobby you don't care but on the flip side , people get really embarrassed if they have to cancel at the last minute so oddly instead of calling -- even if it's last minute to say we're not going to be able to come, they just shy away and don't call but imagine the restaurant is holding a table. so just out of respect, it's good to call.

>> and what about this young man dave carol. he was a passenger on a united airlines flight. the guitar got broken and instead of yelling he sang to them.

>> broken guitar and all.

>> we have video of that.

>> let's take a look. united you broke my taylor guitar you nighted, some big help you are you broke it you should fix it

>> united airlines had a statement. if we could put that up. we regret we did not provide the experience customers expect from us to dave carol. we need to be more accessible to customers to resolve their issues quickly and we have taken steps to change that.

>> is that the way to get the right response.

>> it's being respectful. they're saying this happened and it's not okay.

>> it's think it's slightly opportunitistic.

>> yeah. he made a video out of it. it's gone viral.

>> thank you so much.