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Negotiation With Italian Coffee

Saturday November 5, 2016

Most of us can be proud of our generation tag. Baby Boomers got to see all the good bands. Generation X raved the night away in a muddy field. Generation Y gave us much of our technology. So why does journalist India Knight describe Generation Z as “Generation Mummy’s Little Sausage”?

Harsh judgement on an entire generation and as ever, I suspect a small minority is responsible. Mostly Generation Z are perfectly sensible and self-assured. But it is the expectations of the minority that dominate discussion among those of us in the service and retail sectors.

Consumer rights are enshrined in law and like any responsible business we have a complaints structure. This comes in three phases. One, we sit down with a cup of tea and resolve the issue. If that does not work, the matter is addressed at Director level (sit down with a cup of Italian coffee). The next level escalates the issue to the Ombudsman who will deliver impartial judgement.

In over a decade we have never had an issue progress beyond the cup of tea stage. But we have found a change in the nature of complaints. We operate a 24 – 7 call out service for emergencies. The smell of gas, a flood or structural damage to the property can all fairly be described as an emergency.

A lightbulb popping or the internet going on the blink is an issue we will address, but not at 3.00am. The 3.00am internet issue happened recently and when we advised we would be out the next day, led to a full-on footy stamp on social media. Apparently, we are Attila the Hun on a bad hair day.

The answer to this emerging issue is not to unfairly lambast an entire generation. The answer lies in communication and outlining precisely what our customer care package can reasonably be expected to offer. In that way, we can manage customer expectations and any issues can be resolved over a nice cup of tea. Common sense and the threat of Italian coffee will usually be enough to ensure that both sides of a dispute can walk away satisfied.

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