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Developing your customer complaint policy

Customers want their complaints to be easy to report, acknowledged, and dealt with quickly, fairly and sensitively.

A written complaint handling policy is a good way to ensure that complaints are taken seriously, and dealt with appropriately and consistently. It also helps to support your staff, so be sure they understand your policy.

Here are some tips for developing a customer complaint policy.

  • Make it easy for all customers to complain.
  • Decide which staff have the authority to resolve a complaint, and make sure they know what to do. The more a complaint is escalated to someone higher in the business, the more dissatisfied the customer may become.
  • Set a time frame to respond to a complaint. Taking too long makes the problem worse.
  • Give one person responsibility for managing the complaint from beginning to end, so the customer does not have to repeat their complaint to different staff.
  • Involve your staff in creating your policy.
  • Ensure staff know your policy and how to treat complaints fairly. Poor complaint handling, for example blaming the customer for the problem, or marginalising them by saying no one else has complained, will only worsen the problem.
  • Review your policy regularly, and make changes as necessary.

A complaint handling policy can:

  • state why your business welcomes complaints, listing the benefits to customers, staff and the business
  • state who the policy covers and who is authorised to resolve complaints
  • define a complaint
  • commit to quick, fair and confidential complaint handling
  • state who is responsible for taking, recording, resolving, analysing and reporting on complaints
  • explain how to log complaints
  • explain the complaint procedure and what to do about complaints
  • set timelines for complaint handling and keeping customers informed
  • list acceptable ways to resolve complaints
  • explain what will happen to the complaint if it cannot be resolved
  • be reviewed regularly for effectiveness and updated
  • state where people can get further help
  • be supported and signed by you.

Consult with your staff and customers, and talk to other similar businesses and associations. Also, contact the Equal Opportunity Commission to get your policy right.

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