Customer complaints

Managing customer complaints, problems, and issues is part of being in business. Managing the complaint well and providing good customer service is about more than just keeping customers happy. It's about revenue, because customers make buying decisions based on the service they receive, not just price, quality and availability. A lost customer means lost revenue and an unhappy customer can damage your reputation.

A well managed complaint may convert a potentially lost sale into a loyal customer and is a way to stay ahead of your competitors, but how do you turn a negative experience for the customer into a positive one that may result in repeat business?

How to manage customer complaints

  • Develop procedures so you and your employees know how to manage customer complaints.
  • Provide employees dealing directly with customers the power and flexibility to immediately resolve the issue.
  • Listen empathetically to the customer to establish the details and facts of the complaint (the nature of the fault, the damaged goods, date of purchase, price paid, proof of purchase, name, address etc).
  • Record the details together with relevant evidence (sales receipt or damaged goods).
  • Ask the customer what remedy they are seeking (repair, replacement, refund or apology). Make a judgement about whether the customer's request is reasonable.
  • Resolve the complaint quickly, courteously, and without hassle. Negotiate face to face in a calm and professional manner.
  • Don't make promises you can't keep. Keep the customer informed of any delays. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Where appropriate, follow-up to ensure the problem has been rectified and the customer is satisfied.

Useful sites

ACCC for information on your warranty and refund obligations for goods and services sold prior to 1 January 2011 and Consumer Guarantees for goods and services sold on or after 1 January 2011.

Department of Commerce (WA) for information about complaint handling guidelines for traders.

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