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Page Title: Encouraging Complaints
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Criticizing  Coworkers Heavy  work  loads,  inexperienced  personnel, unfamiliar  situations,  and  carelessness  all  lead  to  the likelihood of errors, which you must correct at some later date. If you seldom make a mistake, you may have a   problem   understanding   why   other   personnel frequently  do. When  you  find  a  mistake  while  helping  a  customer, resist the temptation to “sound off” to the customer about the person who made the mistake. Such action gains nothing; correcting the error requires the same amount  of  effort  whether  or  not  you  express  your feelings.  Instead,  simply  explain  when  and  where  the mistake was made, and then take steps to correct it. Most customers   will   forget   their   annoyance   once   they understand  the  problem  and  know  that  it  will  be corrected. Criticizing Policies, Procedures, and Instructions If you disagree with official Navy policy, command policy, or divisional procedures or instructions, resist the temptation to criticize them to your customers. You don’t have to agree with all of them, but you must follow them.  Discussing  them  among  your  coworkers  may  lead to a better understanding of policy. It may also result in positive changes, such as a more efficient procedure or a better flow of information, that improve your ability to  help  the  customer.  Discussing  them  with  your customer, however, serves no helpful purpose. When a customer’s request is denied because of current policy or regulations, frustration or resentment is a natural reaction. If you express your disapproval or criticism of this policy or regulation, it increases the customer’s feeling of resentment or frustration. You have  not  helped-you  have  only  made  it  harder  for  the customer  to  accept  the  inevitable  answer.  However,  you should explain when a policy is only temporary or when it is expected to change so that the customer knows the current  governing  instructions. Encouraging  Complaints Since you are a source of answers to problems, customers may sometimes bring you a problem that you are experiencing yourself. The SN’s comment, “The division officer doesn’t like me,” in Case Number 4 opened the door for the PN to offer his shoulder for the SN to cry on. The PN could have joined the SN in a duet of self-pity and condemnation, but what would that have accomplished? Rather, the PN determined the real cause and  took  positive  steps  to  correct  it. You  may  have  some  customers  whose  problems  are only imaginary. They want to complain about their petty officers, division officer, duty assignments, working conditions, or the hole in their socks. In these situations, you  must  listen,  but  remain  objective.  Once  again consider  Case  Number  4.  PN  Doe  listened  objectively to SN Frost’s complaints about his division officer. Then she checked the Page 4 of SN Frost’s personnel record and found he had not completed his PARs. After a phone call to Frost’s division officer, PN Doe was able to show the customer the specific causes of the problem. Her action to correct those causes did much to improve the customer’s  attitude  and  discourage  complaints.  Had  she encouraged the customer’s complaints by sympathizing with him or agreeing with his feeling of unfair treatment, she  would  have  reinforced  the  customer’s  negative attitude. What should you do when faced with a similar situation? You should try to improve the customer’s attitude. If, like the SN, a customer has an attitude that he or she is being picked on, try to show the customer the specific causes of the problem. Then, take action to correct  those  causes.  Your  actions  will  do  much  to improve  the  customer’s  attitude. SHOWING APATHY You show apathy by acting as though a customer is too  much  of  a  bother;  apathy  is  discouraging  to  a customer. You can reflect apathy with a shrug of the shoulders or words that imply who cares? What’s your hurry?  or,  What’s  the  difference?  Such  responses  give the customer little hope in getting help with a problem. 3-12

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