Having a clear, fair, complaints process for customers is key to minimising the cost of handling complaints and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction and retention. Having a procedure written down helps you to make sure that all customers who complain will experience a consistent process, and it gives your staff confidence when they are handling a customer complaint.
Below is our suggested process – but please make sure you adapt it to your business and customers!
Customers know that things can go wrong, but they will forgive you if they find it easy to get in touch with you (and if their complaint is resolved to their satisfaction quickly and easily!). Most people still prefer to use the telephone to complain, so make sure your phone number (or a specific complaints number if you need one) is prominently displayed on your website, product and marketing material.
Include a statement such as “Nobody is perfect and we know sometimes we make a mistake. If we do, we want to fix it for you as soon as possible, so you can call us on XXXXXXX between 9am and 5pm any working day. If you need to contact us outside working hours, email XXXXXXXXX and we will get in touch within X hours”.
Keep a central log of all complaints received. Make sure you include who complained, the date, the substance of the complaint, how and when it was resolved and what changes, if any, you have made as a result.
Wherever possible, make sure the customer only has to speak to a maximum 2 members of staff. Make sure that, if the first member of staff cannot resolve the complaint, that they pass it (and all the details) onto someone who can.
Make sure the customer understands how long it may take you to resolve their complaint, and how often you will update them (and how) whilst you are investigating it.
Before you propose a solution to the customer, check the details of their complaint on the complaints log to make sure you are addressing all the points they raised.
After resolving the complaint, write to the customer apologising that they had to complain, setting out in detail the agreed resolution and giving them a contact name and number if they have any further issues.
Diarise a follow-up call to the customer to confirm that they are now happy. Check to see if any other customers may have been affected and contact them if necessary. Review and change policies and procedures if needed. Advise your customers of any changes made as a result of customer complaints.
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