Consumer Complaints: Policies, Responses & Strategies

Instructor: LeRon Haire
The lesson will review how organizations should go about handling customer complaints, and will analyze related factors, including policies, responses, and strategies.

customer complaints

Organizations and Consumer Complaints

Have you ever been a customer in a retail store or fast-food restaurant and witnessed a customer complaining loudly about the service? Did you think the customer had a legitimate claim, or was it a case of making a mountain out of a molehill? These types of complaints occur in businesses and organizations every day. A major challenge is how to limit the number of complaints, as well as developing a strategy to handle them. Let's take a look at several key factors that organizations must face with customer complaints, including policies, responses, and strategies.

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Organizations and Customer Complaint Policies

As everyone knows, customer complaints are typically bad for business. They are made even worse when they occur in the view of other customers. Although customer complaints cannot be completely avoided, organizations do have a secret weapon that can help combat this issue, and it is the use of policies. A policy is a definitive set of rules or regulations which help an organization uphold specific standards. When policies are in place, they can help the process of handling customer complaints by providing structure.

Let's assume that you are complaining to a retail store because you purchased a defective item. Although you may want to request a refund, you noticed during your initial purchase that there was a sign clearly stating that all sales were final, with no refunds. When organizations have policies already in place to protect against customer complaints, it not only gives the organization credibility in the eyes of the consumer, but also helps to protect against any litigation issues that may occur.

Organizations may also benefit from having an escalation policy. Escalating a customer complaint simply means that there is a chain of command that has been pre-determined. For example, if you were to complain to a clothing apparel store that had an escalation policy, they would already know which employee or department would handle the next step of the complaint. The implementation of an escalation policy can save time and confusion when a customer complaint occurs.

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Customer Complaints and Responses

When organizations are handling complaints from customers, it is extremely important they understand that their response goes a long way in determining whether or not the complaint is resolved. For example, let's say that you are now complaining to a restaurant manager because your food was cold instead of hot. The manager sincerely apologizes, gives you a full refund, and prepares a fresh meal for you with a gift card for a future visit. For many people, the positive response may be enough to not only bring them back but also tell others of the great customer-complaint response they received.

On the other hand, let's say that the same manager does not apologize, and insinuates that you should have arrived around lunchtime when the food was hot. It is likely that you would not have left the establishment without some form of negative reaction. When responding to customer complaints, organizations should follow the old adage that states it is easier to catch flies with honey.

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Customer Complaint Strategies

There is one thing that successful organizations and businesses all have in common and that is the implementation of a business strategy. A business strategy can be defined as a plan set forth by an organization that details how they plan to meet objectives and goals for the long-term. When creating a strategy for customer complaints, it's important that the objective is to provide steps on how the complaint will be resolved. Despite the type of customer complaint, the strategy should be followed for all complaints. Here is an example:

Step 1: Receive feedback (verbal or written) from the complaining customer to examine the problem from their perspective

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