Have a system to handle complaints. The benefits to your business can include:
- improved product quality and service delivery
- fewer mistakes and less time spent fixing them
- better understanding of customers’ needs
- increased customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals
- improved business reputation
- a healthier bottom line.
Have a complaints officer whose job it is to ensure:
- there is adequate information available to customers about how to address any problems, especially at the point of sale
- frontline staff are aware of:
- the complaints handling policy
- their authority to settle complaints
- when and to whom they need to refer complaints
- there is a process to handle more difficult and complex cases
- complaints are reviewed regularly to identify ongoing issues
- reports are made to senior management about complaints.
Make the complaints process easy for your customers:
- Complaints form: use a form to record the details of complaints – download a copy our Example customer complaint form for businesses (PDF, 24KB).
- Point of sale:
- have a desk in your store where customers can take enquiries or complaints
- display a simple sign, or include a paragraph on invoices, such as ‘Your custom is important to us – if you are not satisfied, please let us know’
- Phone: have a dedicated line for complaints or problems
- Web: include a customer feedback option on your website.
When dealing with a complaint in person or over the phone:
- identify yourself to the customer
- be professional, polite and courteous
- listen carefully to the complaint
- do not attempt to lay blame or be defensive – politely provide the customer with your perspective
- make a record of the complaint and confirm the details with the customer
- explain the courses of action available to address their complaint
- check if the customer is satisfied with the proposed action and if not, discuss alternatives.
When dealing with a written complaint:
- use the same strategies as with verbal complaints (above)
- respond promptly (ideally within 48 hours) just to inform the customer you are processing their complaint
- send a written response to the customer, even if you have already phoned them.
If the complaint cannot be resolved, seek assistance from an independent third party.
Regularly review complaints:
- follow up with customers who have complained to check if they are satisfied and ask for feedback about your complaints handling system
- review complaints monthly or quarterly to establish any trends, or obvious things you can change or improve
- use complaint records to check how well and quickly your staff handle complaints.