Karen’s daughter doesn’t want to speak to the manager. Why businesses should be worried.

There are hundreds of memes poking fun at ‘Karen’, an infamous white woman in her 40’s with an inverted streaky blonde bob, who wants to speak with the manager. Karen was a culmination of key traits of entitled customers, who weren’t afraid to make a complaint; she represented the customer service nightmare of the last decade. 


Social Media memes have made Karen famous. Even my 11-year-old son knows what a ‘I want to speak to the manager haircut’ is. While the memes are unfortunate to women with the now famous inverted blonde bob and to all women named Karen, they’ve certainly put customer service on the radar of the next generation of customers.


Times have changed since the Karen memes first made an appearance several years ago. Although the memes are funny, they aren’t an accurate description of how customers are complaining now and into the future. So, before Karen retires her black belt of customer service complaints, she’s passing her knowledge on to her daughter, Chloe.


Chloe doesn’t have a famous haircut named after her, she changes with the trends.  She is the Chameleon Customer; she’s everywhere and you can’t see her coming.  Chloe takes her own bags shopping, says no to plastic straws, does her research and expects great customer service.  Chloe represents the new customers of the 21st century.


Customers are no longer complaining to the manager


This new age of customers are different. They rarely front up to the service desk and ask loudly to speak with the manager. They are tech-savvy and mindful of their time. Instead of waiting around and making a scene in the store or restaurant, they jump straight on their phones and leave an instant and very public review. If they are particularly annoyed, they’ll also post what happened to their own social media accounts and Facebook groups. 


Gone are the days of complaining in person. 

Gone are the days of one unhappy customer telling just their group of friends over coffee. 

Technology now lets us tell hundreds or even thousands of people about a negative experience in just seconds.

As a business owner, would you rather have a customer speak with you in person and give you a chance to fix things, or have them jump on Facebook or Google reviews and publicly complain? If you’re now hoping for Karen to make a comeback, we’re with you.


How do you prevent negative reviews?

Offering great customer service is an obvious start, but it’s not always possible. Strive for excellence but be realistic, not every customer will be happy and things occasionally go wrong. Speak with your customers, ask for feedback, ask directly if there’s anything else you can help them with. Have a Customer Satisfaction Survey where they can leave private feedback – showing you actually care can sometimes be enough to make them feel heard. 


What to do if a customer complains in person or via email?

Thank them! Show them some gratitude and appreciation. These customers took time out to tell you what you could be doing better. These days, it’s so much easier to just shop or eat somewhere else. When a customer takes time to tell you something went wrong, they are giving you another chance to keep their business. Hear them out and don’t be defensive. Do everything you can to fix the problem. Apologise sincerely and knock their socks off with a solution. Turn your unhappy customers into loyal advocates and raving fans.


What to do if a customer leaves a negative review of your business?

Acknowledge it and reply – quickly. Remember all future visitors to that site will see your reply. Respond with gratitude for the feedback and offer a sincere apology.  Invite the customer to connect (offline) so you can understand the situation better. Once you have a full understanding of what happened, do anything in your power to fix it. Then go back and reply again to the review saying how pleased you were to have worked things out. 


In the meantime, keep encouraging positive reviews from your happy customers as they will dilute the negative. Have you noticed the sudden influx of customer feedback surveys in your inbox? We have and we think it’s great. 


Give better service than your competitors


There are some really competitive industries right now and customers are spoilt with choice. Many retailers sell the same products and you can get just about anything online. There are new restaurants popping up daily with the best burgers or nana’s secret sauce recipe. As trends change you can’t just have the cheapest prices or best sauce, because there’s always a new business trying to take your customers.


The new-age customers will try these new trends but they’ll keep coming back to businesses where they feel appreciated and valued. They’ll price around and buy online, but they still want connection and a great customer experience when they shop in person. 


Take away tips:


  • Implement a customer service policy, review it regularly and keep your team accountable
  • Recognise and reward your team when they offer exceptional service
  • Measure your service regularly with a Mystery Shopping program so you can identify areas that need improving before customers find them
  • Implement a customer complaints policy, decide in advance how you will respond. Have some templates and language to draw from when responding and monitor reviews daily with alerts.
  • Encourage all customers to leave you reviews, the good reviews will outweigh the bad. The good reviews are vital to your reputation too.


Ask yourself, “Are our customers happy?”


The job title Customer Service Manager is being replaced with Customer Happiness Manager. Here at Above Benchmark we believe that Customer Service is what you ‘do’ for a customer. While Customer Experience is how you make customers ‘feel’. If you can shape your customer service and how you handle complaints to make customers feel great about doing business with you, you’ll be a few steps ahead of your competitors and well on your way to improving customer loyalty.


To keep your business growing and moving forward, embrace your entire customer experience. Be known for your service and for winning over the Karen’s and Chloe’s.