HOW TO: Deal with Bad Customer Service

Sooner or later, the church (and its leadership) have to deal with a vendor or service provider. Most of the time, the vendors are great, prompt and offer good service/product. Occasionally, such is life, the church will have to handle that instance where contracted services are late, are poor quality, or the providers are disrespectful and rude.

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So what does the church do?

  1. “Aren’t we suppose to be “Christian” about it?” – The definition of being a Christian is not letting everyone do whatever they want. Many people are afraid to hold others accountable because it would seem “un-Christian”.  We are called to treat everyone with respect as a creature made in the image of God, but that is not the same as not holding them accountable. Speaking truth in love, even when it is hard, is a core principle of the faith we proclaim. So do it, with an abundance of graceful love.
  2. Just the facts – Clarity of words is important when holding someone accountable. As hard as it may be, speak from the facts of the situation. The easiest way to derail an accountability conversation is to start talking about things that can’t be measured. For example, “The product was promised by xx date, but it was delivered on yy date.” will do much more than “The product was late and caused me a huge inconvenience.” The first one is measurable and reviewable, the second, while still true, is not as clear and defined. (An important part of this step is to record EVERYTHING. In a simple written journal note every conversation, person, deliverable, and cost.)
  3. Speak directly to the person, then escalate. – Don’t call the person’s boss before you have talked to them first. Give the vendor or service provider a chance to remedy the situation on their own before calling their supervisor. Then, if the situation is still not fixed, inform your provider you are escalating the complaint, and then follow-through with the contact.
  4. Offer ways to make it right – You can’t go back in time to make a delivery on time, so instead of just pointing out the faults, offer up ways that the company can make it right. “The delivery was 4 days late, so a way we can make this right is to discount the price of the service by 10%.” Then listen. If what you offered won’t work for them, they will often offer their own alternative solution. In any case, don’t say “it’s fine.” when discussing a job is not done to specifications.

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