Recent Survey Turns Up Top 10 Customer Complaints

Not too long ago the Consumer Federation of America completed a survey that outlined the top 10 industries in terms of generating customer complaints to federal and state agencies.  The results of the survey show that many businesses and industries – not just retail – were blasted for poor business practices.  Don’t let the fact that other businesses have problems make you feel complacent about the retail industry though.  Our industry finished fifth on the list only one step behind perennial problem industries such as construction and the cable companies.  

There are common themes in these complaints….and the biggest one is setting expectations for service and then failing to meet them.

Review these issues and then take a step back to look at your retail business.  Does your retail training program focus on the importance of understanding, meeting, and then exceeding your retail customers’ expectations?  And then, once you have, provided quality training on effective retail customer care, are you and your management team inspecting what you expect by providing feedback and coaching for your front-line retail sales and customer service representatives?

There are many resources to help you communicate and train on retail service standards.  The same goes for ensuring your management team has the tools, skills, and understanding they need to help you gain market share and customer loyalty.

But learning about customer issues is only half the battle.  We must take action so that we can  without action is The fact is that we can all learn from each other.  What comes from the survey is a list of the top customer/consumer complaints of 2010. As you review the list, be proactive and review your business practice to insure your customers have one less thing to complain about.

1. Autos-  Among the frustrations: misrepresenting vehicles for sale; lemons; faulty repairs; leasing and towing disputes.

2. Credit/Debt –  Billing and fee disputes; mortgage-related fraud; credit repair; debt-relief services; predatory lending; illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.

3. Home improvement/Construction- Shoddy work; failure to start or complete the job.

4. Utilities - Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas services.

5. Retail sales- False advertising and other deceptive practices; defective merchandise; problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates; failure to deliver.

6. Professional services-  Misrepresentations; shoddy work; failure to have required licenses; failure to perform.

7. Internet sales- Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice; failure to deliver online purchases.

8. Household goods-  Misrepresentations; failure to deliver; faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.

9. Landlord/Tenant- Unhealthy or unsafe conditions; failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities; deposit and rent disputes; illegal eviction tactics.

10. Home solicitations- Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations; do-not-call violations.

There are many resources to help you communicate and train on retail service standards.  The same goes for ensuring your management team has the tools, skills, and understanding they need to help you gain market share and customer loyalty.

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David Goodwin is the CEO of Retail Advocacy Group.  A consulting firm that is focused on helping retailers improve their store operations, sales and customer relations prowess, and customer experience.  With over 30 year experience operating hundreds of retail locations for leading consumer electronics, wireless, and apparel retailers he is uniquely qualified to comment on retail trends.