by Tash Hughes of Word
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
- Staying calm and respectful
- Showing understanding to the
- 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
In order to always deal with customer complaints
effectively, a complaints system can be a very useful
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
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
- 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
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