Thursday, August 23, 2012

Complaint about complaints - Help Us Help You!

The old complaint form shown here was actually a pretty smart idea, as it walked people through what was needed to handle their complaints.  
What we need is an online equivalent to help online companies help those who have had problems buying online.
This is a huge departure from my normal blog topic, so let me back up, as you may wonder why I'm writing this blog about complaints. 
In addition to running my strategic consulting firm that specializes in distribution, I have the pleasure of running one of the largest hotel sites in the country.  And one of the things that I get to do as the CEO of the company is to handle all of the written complaints and complaints that come through the Better Business Bureau.
I am not going to make this a commercial for that site, but suffice it to say that after less than two years, we are in the Top 100 travel sites as reported by Hitwise. 
[For anyone that has tried to grow an online business you will understand the magnitude of reaching that milestone in such a short period of time. ]
Back to the topic of complaints.  Fortunately, out of tens of thousands of reservations per month, we have only had a total of about 30 written complaints in the 23 months that we have been in business.
Out of those, a whopping 100% are missing some critical piece of information in order for us to either research the problem or to contact them when we have resolved their complaint (or if we need more information, which is most often the case).
Here are the essential elements of a complaint about an online transaction. 
·      Your name and phone number in case we need more information.
·      The confirmation number.  If there are more than one numbers on the document, include all relevant numbers (or better yet, just forward or include a copy of the original confirmation in your complaint).  For hotel reservations, there is often an itinerary number (internal to the retailer) and a hotel confirmation number. 
·      The email that you used to make the reservation.  For our system, this is how we retrieve the reservation.
·      The salient details of the complaint (normally the client is pretty good at this one!)
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if you run an online site, you should actually have a form on your website or a section where you tell people what you need from the consumer in order to research a complaint.
If you are a consumer, just know that we want to help.  We want to resolve issues. 
Help us help you!

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