Sometimes it can be so difficult to have a complaint taken seriously. We end up on the phone, going through person after person explaining our problem until we are blue in the face. It could be something as simple as wanting a reprint of a bank statement, or an explanation for why your internet mysteriously turns itself off for 15 minutes at midnight every day, but it all seems to fall on deaf ears.
You might be surprised to know that there is actually a way to make a complaint more likely to be heard by the relevant people and to reach a satisfactory outcome. Just follow these simple steps.
Write down the key points
When you make your call, have all the points you would like to make available to hand – it’s easy to get into a bit of a tizz and forget key information. It’s also very possible you’ll have to repeat yourself to various people, so having everything written down ensures you get your story straight throughout.
Make them understand
They need to be aware that you’re making a formal complaint, and that you understand the company’s procedures, so make sure you’ve done your homework. If the person you’re dealing with doesn’t seem interested in helping, tell them that you’d like to take it further. It’ll make sure they take you seriously.
Speak to the right people
When you call the initial 0345 numbers for customer service, you’ll be given so many options that you might think your head will explode. If there’s no option for customer complaints, try to get to the customer retention department – it’s their job to make sure nobody leaves, so they should put you in touch with the relevant people without much hassle.
Decide what outcome you want
If you want a refund for a product or some compensation for services lost, then make sure you know that before you call. Decide what your only acceptable outcome will be, and what you’re willing to compromise on, and communicate that to them. Make sure that it’s you calling the shots; it makes it more difficult for them to get away with just paying you lip service.
Have your personal details to hand
There’s nothing worse than fumbling for your passwords, or your reference or account numbers when they’re waiting for you. Show them you mean business by being as efficient as possible, and keeping all necessary personal details to hand.
Take down a name
Make a note of who you talk to, the date and time, and the answers they give you, in case you need to chase it up. A direct line number for the correct department is also a bonus, if they’re willing to divulge.
If your initial contact was by phone, send them an email or a letter outlining everything you discussed, and what your agreed outcome was. Request this name and address to contact at the end of your phone conversation – it will show the operator that you’re planning on chasing them up, so they won’t be able to get away with inactivity. If you don’t hear anything or nothing changes, don’t be afraid to continue chasing. Try using different means of contact, so use phone calls, letters, and emails, until you reach the required effect. You can even take it as far as writing to the chief executive’s office if you feel as though nothing else is working. If you’re pretty good on social media, you can even take your complaint on there – they’re more likely to respond when the world can see how badly they’re handling something.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t let yourself get riled up, however frustrating the call is. You’ll get your point across more effectively and concisely when you stay calm, and the person with whom you’re speaking is more likely to feel sympathetic towards you. Remember, they’re human too, and they’re not going to respond well to being shouted at.
Keep a paper trail
Every piece of correspondence needs to be documented. Transcripts of phone conversations or complaints made in store should be kept alongside printed versions of emails or website’s instant chat function, as well as any letters you may receive. If you have to push any complaints further up the ladder, it’s useful to be able to refer back to specific documents and conversations in your paper trail for evidence.
It’s so important with anything like this that you know your rights, so make sure you do your research, both on the company you’re complaining to, but also on your consumer rights and trading standards – don’t let them pay you lip service, show them that you mean business.
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