Welcoming Complaints

 

Having a publicly available, clear and simple message about how to complain on a sign or on a brochure, notice or invoice, and your business’ complaint management policy should be accessible on your website or at your front counter. (Standards Australia, 2014).

KEY POINTS

Remember that complaints are a good way to learn about how to improve your business and your bottom line

Getting this information from customers is important, and statistics show that sometimes people don’t complain because they don’t know how to complain.If you make it clear and easy forthem, you will benefit from their feedback

This information should include

  • How to make a complaint and provide feedback
  • Where to make the complaint
  • When to make the complaint
  • The information the complainants should provide
  • The process for handling complaints
  • The various time periods associated with the complaint process
  • Options for review and redress
  • How the complainant can obtain feedback on the status of their complaint

CASE STUDY

VIRGIN AIRLINES HAS AN ONLINE HELP SERVICE WHERE CUSTOMERS CAN ASK FOR HELP OR MAKE A COMPLAINT AND GET AN INSTANT REPLY. AIRASIA IS A LOW COST AIRLINE WHICH ENCOURAGES LIVE CHAT FOR CUSTOMER CONTACT, QUESTIONS AND COMPLAINTS. THESE COMPANIES ARE WELCOMING COMPLAINTS BY MAKING IT VERY EASY TO CONTACT THEM AND COMPLAIN. (COOK, 2012).

Have a clear complaints process

Your business’ complaints handling policy should:

  • Be clear
  • Include the names and contact details of the specific person/people responsible for managing complaints and what they can do
  • Include a process that allows the business manager to be made aware of complaints and the
    complaints handling process

KEY POINTS

Make it easy for customers to complain by providing them with all the information they need to make a complaint – you would rather hear directly from them than have them spread bad publicity about you to others

Ensure that you create specific documentation (with relevant headings) orwebsite pages which clearly relate tocomplaints, rather than just providing yourcontact details

It is important that organisational promises for satisfaction be easy and painless for the customer to obtain (Stephens and Gwinner, 1998)

Staff awareness & frontline resolution

When dealing with complainants, your staff should be:

  • Responsive
  • Respectful
  • Good at listening
  • Assertive and confident

One way to ensure all staff can deal with complaints effectively, is to use a complaint handling competency framework.

To achieve competency and remain competent, staff need to receive continual training. You can access the Australian Competency and Ethical Framework for Complaint Professionals here
The LEARNT process for dealing with complaints is a simple framework that you can use and teach your staff (Cook, 2012).

Figure 6

Figure 1.2 uses The LEARNT process for dealing with complaints.

From Sarah Cook, Complaint Management Excellence, 2012, US, p92.

 

KEY POINTS

Try to resolve disputes at the lowest level possible and make sure staff members understand their roles in complaint handling.

Make sure your staff are continually refreshing their knowledge about complaints handling and your policies and procedures, and that they understand what aspects of the complaint they need to record.

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