How to professionally handle a Complaint

Below is a fascinating summary of the standard process that is rarely mentioned in the public domain of how to handle a complaint...

By rights front line staff should listen to your complete complaint without interrupting and simultaneously demonstrating positive Body Language, including eye contact, the mirroring skills technique and the correct supportive expressions.

If they do not listen to you, it demonstrates a lack of training, so you should immediately and kindly request that they take more care to listen to you as a common courtesy. Some staff just need a reminder.

Here the person receiving the complaint is supposed to show empathy, which means to demonstrate an understanding of your complaint, circumstance or situation. All too often service people get this part wrong and proceed to explain coldly, quote policy or attempt an early conclusion thus skipping empathy. This usually puts the conversation on a track to failure.

At this stage, make sure that you are listened to properly and if this is not the case be sure to highlight it.

At this juncture that Complaint Handler should confirm to you what they have understood about your complaint, circumstance or situation. This may be followed by a series of open questions to find out more information followed by some potential closed questions to confirm key points.

Once again all too often people in service positions bypass this stage. If it happens to you, simply request that they confirm their understanding of your complaint before proceeding.

Despite what some feel and portray as a confusing situation, in the grand scheme of things there are only 3 action options on the table as follows...

Here an attempt is made to actually solve the problem. For example if you did not receive a Non smoking room them give you one or if you do not like your steak it is changed for you etc. Often a mere explanation is suffice, especially if new or unknown information is brought to light. If your problem cannot be solved practically without lasting harm then the action will turn to one of the below (A or B).

In the event your issue cannot be solved or harm caused cannot be easily rectified, then you may well be entitled to compensation. This could come in the form of a refund (part or full), settlement amount or a 'Sweetner' (wine, flowers, voucher etc). The 'Sweetner' is sometimes given even if they do not agree with you, as its determined that you are a desirable customer and may return, so this serves as a form of motivation. This is yet another reason to stay composed and be nice!

If the person dealing with your claim or the Company rules disagree with your viewpoint, then they may "agree to disagree" in which case a complaint form or report needs to be filled in. This can also occur if the person dealing with you has insufficient power to authorise or arrange points A or B, so you will need to claim later.

Professional Companies always follow up, however from my experience there are not so many around these days. This is partly due to the automation of service in the 21st Century and/or the mass market arrangements of Tourism today, which is certainly cheaper, however not so satisfying or personalised.

Follow up really makes the difference and can stimulate a customer to return. Follow up can occur in a simple phone call, letter, email, message or better still by utilising the personal touch.

There are of course variations to the above, however they all follow a common thread and the differences are generally just wording, expressions or to a lesser extent extra invented stages.