Recently, I decided to make a formal complaint to a company in relation to one of their staff. I had such a horrible experience and I felt as though I couldn’t allow this person to keep treating their customers like they were without making the company aware by complaining about it.
First of all, I think it’s extremely important, in life and when you are an EA, that you don’t just complain all the time. There has to be a happy medium of compliments and complaints, or more often than not you will have the reputation of being the consistent complainer and no one will take you seriously. So, make sure when someone goes out of their way for you, and provides outstanding customer service that you let their Manager or Superior know about it.
Here are my pointers on writing a complaint letter. I do think anything in writing is much more effective than over the phone or in person. Your words can be well thought out, and it leaves out the issue of saying something you regret or didn’t mean.
– Do your research and make sure you are writing to the correct person. If you get it wrong the problem may never be resolved and you’ve wasted your time. Put this into the wrong hands and it can start the rumour mill in their place of work. Don’t hesitate to go higher than their Manager, but too high and the problem might not be looked at for a few months, due to the superior’s workload.
– With any complaint, issue or problem, I think THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is to make sure that you write it or mull over it before writing it, for at least 24 hours. Don’t send something the instant it happens as you will be too emotional about it. Try to detach yourself from the situation and you will sound more authoritative and reasonable and will more than likely be taken more seriously.
– When writing the letter, be concise so it can be understood quickly. If you think that the person should be able to skim the letter and understand that it’s important before reading it more thoroughly, that’s a good way to look at it. If they skim and think it looks like a rant, it may go straight in the bin. However most companies take any complaint very seriously. Rightly or wrongly, they will judge the person that wrote the letter, so make that judgement as positive as possible where you can.
– Present it professionally. If you want to use a separate document, PDF it so that spelling and grammatical errors aren’t shown by those squiggly red and green lines. If sending the letter to others, type out the cc details underneath your signature.
CC: The Managing Director
Major Corporation Pty Ltd
1 Station Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
– State out the facts. The relevant details, dates, times and then justify your reasoning as to why the actions were not satisfactory.
– Keep it constructive also! Letters with positive statements about the company and other members of staff, or letters suggesting a more positive course of action, provide encouragement to the company, and again you are more likely to be taken seriously, as opposed to them thinking you are ranting. Never threaten. It never produces good results. I like to try and put myself in the shoes of the person I’m complaining about, and I like to write about the reason I think they acted like they did. I think this comes across as friendly and considerate to others. Again this also can’t be done unless you’ve waited 24 hours and have calmed down about the situation!
I find that i make any compliments at the beginning as opposed to the end. I like to start on the positive and make the middle the negative, with the final paragraph stating that I’m hopeful it can be resolved and I look forward to hearing from them soon. (Still quite positive, don’t you think?) Phrases like “I realise that this is a rare problem, that mistakes happen and no-one is to blame” can also be positive when used in the right context.
– Use your thesaurus, Use spell check, read it back a number of times, and provide it to someone else for their opinion. Your opinion is the final say as it didn’t happen to them, but take the constructive criticism on anyway.
The complaint letter I recently sent was provided to the staff members’ direct Manager. The response I received was from their Managers’ Superior, so I’m positive that these are a few of the right steps to take to get your voice heard, and the right steps will be taken to fix the issue.
Do you have any thoughts on complaint letters? Do you have any other suggestions on how to write one?