Complaints procedure

A complaint is when a customer expresses their dissatisfaction at the quality of products or standard of service that has been provided.

A waitress handling a customer complaint.

Most businesses have a procedure in place which explains what to do when a complaint is made.

This includes how to handle customers who complain, how to record the complaint, when to refer a complaint to a more senior member of staff and when to offer compensation.

By following the complaints procedure, staff are equipped to handle the situation professionally and efficiently.

The steps below are found in most complaints procedures.

  • Acknowledge the customer immediately and listen carefully without interrupting
  • Apologise to the customer whilst remaining polite, calm and professional
  • Summarise the complaint back to customer letting them know you understand their frustration
  • Solve the problem as quickly as possible by explaining the action you will take
  • Check with the customer to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome
  • Thank the customer for their understanding and patience
  • Record complaint in the complaints book

Advantages of a complaints procedure

  • Staff will know what to do, which results in issues being resolved effectively
  • There will be a consistent approach when handling complaints
  • Staff will feel confident and able to demonstrate a high level of professionalism
  • Recording complaints provides evidence for the business to monitor the quality of service and identifies any areas of concern

Disadvantages of a complaints procedure

  • It can be a time consuming process to collate complaints and identify action
  • Some staff may be unsure of the complaints procedure and will not handle complaints effectively
  • It will take time to train all staff in the correct procedure when handling complaints
  • Customers may not be truthful about their experience or have a hidden agenda, like looking some form of compensation and therefore complaints that have been logged may not be justified