Berlin (dpa/tmn) – Business contact is one of those things. Whoever calls, loves to end up in endless queues. Sometimes there are also chatbots, contact forms almost always online, but at least an email address. Therefore a personalized customer service strategy is required. Because getting in touch with businesses is often easy.
“Customer service complaints can be categorized into three categories: accessibility, quality and documentation,” explains Carola Elbrecht of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations, which has analyzed customer communication problems. “In our investigation, there were companies that were difficult or impossible to reach. There was no response to the emails and phone numbers provided did not lead anywhere.”
Trust and ask for affirmations
Elbrecht says some concerns have not been adequately addressed. “Sometimes there were delay tactics, customer service saying they would take care of it and then nothing happened.” In order to have something on hand in the event of a legal dispute, Elbrecht advises documenting attempts to communicate with companies to be on the safe side. This can be in the form of screenshots in chatbot conversations or as a note of when and when you called the hotline.
But even if we hear your voice over the phone, says Elbrecht: It’s best to take notes during the conversation and get affirmative agreements or promises back by email, especially when it comes to contractual issues. “If it does not happen, you should record the outcome of the conversation yourself by email or even a letter and send it to the contracting partner with a confirmation request,” Elbrecht advises.
Quickly pick up the phone
Despite all the different and new possibilities of the Internet: if it comes to getting help as quickly as possible, Elbrecht always prefers a phone call. When it comes to meeting deadlines, such as terminating a contract, you should instead play it safe and send a letter by registered mail, advises a consumer attorney. And: “If it’s about general information, it makes sense to start a conversation in the hope that you’ll get a link or an answer, for example.”
Depending on the previous relationship, Simone Vintz of Stiftung Warentest sees very significant differences in how the company is communicated. “Especially in the beginning, most companies put a lot of effort into customer service because you want to sell something to them,” Vintz says. Chatbots are now also frequently used for the purpose of relaying information. Then they were quickly led to the correct information page or the correct tariff, but they were more for guidance.
Customers sometimes have more difficult times
However, if you’re already a customer and have a problem, communication will be more difficult: “In our testing, for example, it didn’t make sense to write the issues into the contact form,” according to product tester Vintz. “If it goes well, you usually get a connection, and if it goes bad, nothing will happen.”
With hotlines, you are endlessly put off, redirected, or someone tries to keep you out of trouble. Wentz says. However, most problems are often best solved in direct interpersonal contact.
Chatbots are more for simple questions
On the other hand, chatbots can help better with simple questions, for example when it comes to finding your way around a website. Simone Vintz says that when it comes to complex issues and problems, chatbots are often completely overwhelmed and customers get frustrated quickly.
Businesses run the risk of alienating and losing customers with bad chatbots. This is especially true if it’s not about the learning system, but only a consistent base of predefined answers is taken out.
Info box: Weigh social media discs carefully
And what about social media? You should think carefully about venting your anger on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and also to increase public pressure, says Simone Vintz of Stiftung Warentest: “It would be more important to me that my problem was resolved than that the company again began to denounce properly. And the individual issue most likely won’t be resolved by a Twitter post.”
Carola Elbrecht of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations warns that advertising campaigns can backfire if the company issues an injunction against certain statements or ratings. “Consumers have told us that companies have responded aggressively to something like this,” Elbrecht says. “These people were banned from using the platform, comments were simply deleted and one consumer customer account was deactivated.”
Of course, it isn’t necessary and you shouldn’t get that far in the first place. With such strict countermeasures, you do not have to stand aside and look, you can get support from consumer advice centers or from a lawyer. Of course, this also applies in the event that the company does not respond to the initial attempt to connect.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220519-99-353864 / 2