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Customer Complaints

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (www.wordconstructions.com.au

 An important way to care for your customers is to deal effectively with any complaints and negative feedback they have.

Customers with a complaint can help you improve your business and also turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one. Dealing with complaints effectively can save you from a bad reputation.

Effective complaints procedures

The key steps to dealing with customer complaints effectively are:

  • Staying calm and respectful
  • Showing understanding to the customerís situation
  • Listening to what the customer thinks is wrong
  • Working on a solution the customer is satisfied with
  • Providing a solution
  • Following up with the customer afterwards

Complaints system

In order to always deal with customer complaints effectively, a complaints system can be a very useful business tool.

Having a system means that all staff will act the same way and that complaints are followed up. It also leaves a paper trail so you can look back and spot ways to improve your business and reduce the number of complaints.

Even if you donít refer to it very often, the act of writing it down means you are more prepared to deal with complaints when they occur.

Having a written procedure can also help customers trust you and fell its worthwhile bringing the complaint to you in the first place.

What does the system involve?

In its simplest form, a complaints system is a set of instructions about how to deal with complaints. The instructions will suit your specific business and products or services, and need to be based on the key steps listed above.

You may find you need two or more sets of instructions if you have many staff or different forms of complaints coming in. Some examples of needing more instructions are:

  • dealing with complaints in person or by email
  • >dealing with faulty products complaints or complaints about a service issue
  • when to call a manager about a complaint and a procedure for managers
  • treating negative feedback (eg an error on your website) separately to serious complaints (eg your product was faulty)

The procedure can then be added to any other policies and procedures for your business, and possibly added to your staff manuals. In a retail business, you may wish to display a version of the procedure for customers, or at least have it available to show them if they ask.

A more comprehensive complaints procedure will include a recording system for the complaints. This could be a notebook where all complaints are written or a form for customers to fill in and the business to file.

Having a record of complaints is useful for monitoring any patterns and finding areas of improvement in the business. It is also handy as a record of dates if a customer returns to make further complaints.

As part of the recording system, make sure there is a way to tell resolved complaints apart from the unresolved ones. It could be as simple as moving a complaint form into another section of a folder or putting a red line across a complaint once it has been resolved.

A regular check of the records will then show you which complaints still need to be resolved. This way, no complaints will be left unresolved for very long and customers wonít be kept waiting.

Recording any follow up contact with customers is also useful for establishing an effective complaints process.

Review the process

Having a complaints procedure is a good plan for your business, but until you know it works effectively it is only a plan.

In order to get the system working as well as possible, you may even ask customers if they have complaints so you can test the process.

After you have dealt with some complaints, review the procedure and see if it can be adjusted to be more effective or simple. Donít forget to ask other staff and customers how they found the process as well.

After writing a customer complaints procedure and reviewing it, you will be better placed to keep your customers happy and earn word-of-mouth advertising.


Tash Hughes is the owner of Word Constructions and is available to solve all your business writing problems! From letters to policies, newsletters to web content, Word Constructions writes all business documents to your style and satisfaction.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.



© 2003 - 12, Tash Hughes