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Council of Better Business Bureaus ®
Start With Trust®
Council of Better Business Bureaus
Effective Complaint Handling
July 07, 2010
In our global marketplace where businesses compete both nationally and internationally, effective complaint handling should be a priority for every business. The way a company reacts to complaints is a measure of its concern for the quality of its merchandise and services and of its desire for consumer satisfaction.

The foundation of customer goodwill is the existence, promotion and practice of a sound customer relations policy. Your policy should encourage customers to communicate their concerns and demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction. The policy should spell out how, when, where and by whom complaints or questions are handled. One person within the company should have the ultimate authority and responsibility for customer relations, although all employees should know your policy and how to implement it.

Your complaint handling system is structured from your customer relations policy and must operate simply, effectively and quickly. The following procedures are essential:

Screening and Logging - The date the problem occurred, a description of the problem, and any other pertinent information should be formally recorded.

Investigating - In addition to information from the customer, gather more facts by researching in-house records on the customer, requesting receipts and inspecting the product.

Acknowledging - Let the customer know that the matter is receiving attention and how long it will take to resolve the issue.

Formulating a Solution - Your solution should be consistent with your customer relations policy. Important criteria to consider include warranty obligations; your customer's expectations; the cost versus benefit of alternative solutions; the probability of your customer seeking redress; the fairness of your decision; and your ability to carry out the solution.

Responding - Your response should be clear, appropriate and specific to the individual's complaint. Avoid form letters and technical jargon. Explaining your decision can preserve your customer's goodwill, even if a different result was desired.

Following-up - Contact your customer following your response to verify whether or not the matter has been resolved satisfactorily. If the customer is unhappy, refer the matter to a third party dispute resolution mechanism, such as the Better Business Bureau, for assistance.