What will you do if your product or service fails to meet your client’s expectations and they make a complaint?
You certainly don’t put it in your desk drawer and hope it will go away – that’s a sure way to trash your reputation.
And don’t hide behind your Terms and Conditions. We’ve all experienced being given the brush off when we thought we had a legitimate complaint – it makes you think twice about using the same company again.
Actually, you get back to them promptly and talk to them about the issue: you promise to try to resolve it within a given time-frame, and try to keep that promise.
Your client might still be unhappy with what you supplied, but they’ll be happier with you and your company as they will know you have responded to their complaint and their issue is being addressed.
Put in a Complaints Handling System
And you should do this systematically for every complaint.
Faced with this, recently, a client asked me what was meant by a Complaints Handling System that conformed to the guidelines in ISO 10002 – the client was required to do this for their accreditation.
Now, these International Standards don’t normally tell you how to do it, but amazingly there is a really good explanation in that Standard* of a complaints handling process for a small business – essentially this:
- Devise a system to log, track and resolve complaints;
- Set target time-scales for contacting the client and for resolving their issues;
- Tell the client what these time-scales are, and talk to them regularly about your progress;
- Appoint someone to administer the system – making sure these commitments are met;
- Decide which staff will be involved in dealing directly with your clients, and get them some training if necessary – they may have to deal with frustration, anger or confrontation over the phone;
- Take it really seriously – carry out regular audits at director level to ensure things are being done on time;
- Use your audits to drive continual improvement; and
- Carry your staff with you and reward them for their performance in a difficult role.
This sounds like a lot of work
Not really. If you have a culture of client satisfaction and continual improvement, you are probably carrying out most of these steps anyway.
And remember, most growing, high-performing businesses are process-led, so if you want to be like that I guess you’ll have to start putting some processes in.
Posted by Peter Johnson, Business Advisor with SGBA. If you would to talk to someone about your business, including your complaints handling system, call Peter on 07714 093406 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*ISO 100002:2004(E) Appendix A.