Being a good customer means being able to complain in a way that is helpful

BAD SURVEY: Tell us what you think... OK, GREAT, EXCELLENT, AMAZING!!!!I'm often told that I deal with difficult situations in a way that results in getting what I want. To me this is quick an interesting observation because I find that most often what people mean when they say that is, when I receive a poor customer experience I'm able to turn things around so that I obtain a desirable outcome, thus turning a bad experience into a good one.

This manifest itself most often when I'm out and about with my wife. We will be at a retail store, or out to dinner and something will go wrong. Often my wife will turn to me and suggest that I handle it since "I know how to deal with these things". So what is the secret to my taking a bad situation and turning it around... being a good customer.

As it turns out business want to make money. Shocking, I know. The way they make money is by advertising to attract customers to frequent their brick and mortar locations to use their services or purchase their goods. Knowing this puts the customer in wonderful position. How so? Well said business has already spent a measurable amount of money to get you in the door and ideally they would like you to come back without having to spend a lot more money on advertising. If you have had a bad experience and they are made aware of this then the responsible business will train their employees to try and recover the situation by offsetting the bad with good. This can be in the form of a coupon, discount, or even the wonderful freebie.

But there is the human element to these situations that can result in you missing out on ANY benefit. Case in point, let's say you are out for dinner and you have a bad experience and feel you are do some offsetting consideration how can you go about achieving this goal and turning the situation into a benefit.

My tried and true method is to make someone aware and stick to the facts. Often this translates to asking to speak to the person in charge AND being specific. If you are at a retail store and find that you are charged the wrong price don't dispute the matter with the cashier. They won't have access to change a price in the Point of Sale, also they are most often NOT involved in causing the issue so don't waste their time and yours trying to make them fix the price at the register. Ask to have your ticket transferred to the customer service desk. Remember you can always get a refund on the missed price item and thus holding up the line only annoys people and will NOT get you want you want, which should be the price you expected to pay.

When you find a person "in charge" stick to the facts. Can you show them in print the price you expected to pay? If so you almost are guaranteed to be able to buy the item at the price in print. If it's just the price you "thought" you say you have very little ground to stand on. But let's say you HAVE the e-mail or print ad with the price listed and it's less than what was on your receipt. If it's less than 1-2% of the overall purchase then there will probably be little discussion about the difference being refunded; however, more than that and it's possible the company could be losing money on the deal and with margins the way they are it could be a deal breaker.

What to do in those situations? First, align your objective. You want the price listed and the company doesn't want to lose money, sounds like a great time to bargain. If you are committed to buying the item then any discount at all is a win, so.. start big and back down. Ask for the full difference in price, if they don't budge ask for 75% less, then 25%... nothing hurts in asking. Also this is when it helps to be mindful of your surroundings. If you think "making a stink" and drawing attention will get you what you want, along the lines of "give me what I want and I'll stop making trouble" you are slipping into the mindset of being a trouble maker. Let me ask you, do you want to help a troublemaker. Probably not. If you are polite and DO NOT draw undo attention then a person in charge is more inclined to think that they can "make you happy" without others needing to catch wind of the price change and cause a stamped.

At this point once you have a "person in charge" and they realize you are looking for some type of compensation/consideration, it helps to be clear about your problem. What I mean by this is explain your desire to continue to be a customer and that this misinformation about price will make it hard for you to "trust" their advertising; however, you do really like their store and are interested in coming back; otherwise your inclined to just use the online retail which guarantees the price. This last line is the kicker. Retail in particular is very aware that it is at a disadvantage with the online competition so reminding them of this, while sometimes a risk, often results in the push to get the desired consideration.

All of this advice also is mute if you are not a considerate customer. Don't be rude, don't belittle people who are employee's of the company. Be respectful and attempt to avoid making "problems" for others.

I hope my approach helps you complain in a helpful way.