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Old March 15th, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Default How to address a complaint

After reading a number of gripes and complaints on these boards over the years I thought I might start a thread that was non specific as to subject, but rather, suggestive as to good strategy for framing and communicating a complaint. (any complaint)
Probably the single biggest mistake I see is letting emotion get out front of fact and logic. That said, suggestion number one is to keep emotion in check. Present facts in a concise manner. Stick to the facts. Use dates ,names, titles but keep accusations and suppositions in check.
Address your complaint to /through the appropriate channel. Begin with customer service. Move on to supervisors and try and address levels of management through the chain of command. Give reasonable time for your complaint to be investigated and followed up . Then follow up yourself.
Stick to the important issues and leave out inconsequential problems that can side track you principal complaint. At the very least state the relative importance of your comments and complaints so they can be kept in perspective.
Keep one phrase out of all communications. "I will never do business with you again".
Once you say that, there is no point in appeasing your complaint. I do not need to give you good customer service once you tell me you will never be my customer again.Think it, do it, but never , never say it.
Lay out the problem logically and do not presume the person you are addressing is aware of the facts (unless you are told they are). After addressing the facts and stating the problem , state your reasonable and proportional proposal for a solution. Do so
without threats , at least at first.
Keep your threats reasonable , actionable and correct. Do some research into who might have controlling authority. Who will the entity you are complaining to care about your complaining to? Any threat , without "teeth" might as well be kept silent.
Know your facts , rights and the obligations of all parties before you complain. Read contracts, agreements and consult knowledgeable authority (key word knowledgeable).
Finally be prepared to state what your reasonable expectation for settlement of your complaint would be. Don't be open ended, give someone something to respond to that will close the situation.
Having presented the above suggestions , I know I have left something out and solicit
additional suggestions and comments. Please keep these to the "act" of complaining
and do not get into specific gripes or complaints. Let's leave that for other threads.
What I'd like to end up with here is a good basis for assisting with the complaint process. Thoughts and ideas that through your experience have ended up with the best results.
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Old March 15th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

well said Papa... although I've been madder than a hornet on several occasions worthy of a complaint I hold it all in and be as sweet as pie.... seems "powers that be" are more receptive when you treat them with kindness / politeness. You get more flies with honey type of deal...

That being said, as soon as Im finished speaking / writing to "Powers that be" I run it over in my head and get quite hostile if warranted. I look at it like its Poker... never show your hand !!
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Old March 15th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

Canot add to your logic and procedures. Are you or have you ever been an union organizer?

You could probably settle the National Hockey League strike.

Bill
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Old March 15th, 2005, 04:09 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

And never say...............

.............."You'll hear from my lawyer."

Chances are that whomever you are dealing with has far more attorneys on retainer than you can find in a phone book!

Many places are instructed to end communication when that happens.

I agree that emotion is the #1 cause of failure in negotiations on any type.


A good rule of thumb is would you want to deal with yourself???
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Old March 15th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

Bill.. well you have the groundwork down pretty pat. Must come from experience <G>

Think brevity plays a pretty important role. Someone gets a 6 page letter, it's not likely they are going to get to the end. Make the points succinctly, and as the process rolls up the line, you'll have more chances to expound on the details.

Early on in my cruising career I had some issues with a Celebrity cruise. I wrote an admittedly "not very good letter" to the cruise line, and got an unsatisfactory reply. I didnt end up cruising with Celebrity for 5 years, and quite a few cruises... so in my view they lost a considerable amount of income from me, and those I cruised with.

It's my contention that's what caused Celebrity to go broke and sell out to RCI <G>

The reality is they did just fine without me..... and after hearing many good things about them, I went back and gave them the proverbial "second chance", and now they are my favorite mass market line.

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Old March 15th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

As usual, PapaBill, you've said it best. This thread was a good idea and I hope posters will take your advice to heart. It's something that will benefit us not just for cruise gripes but for
almost every situation we encounter in our everyday lives as well.

Gail
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Old March 15th, 2005, 09:55 PM
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Default Re: Re: How to address a complaint

I have found in the past if I had a major complaint that had my "bloomers in a twist", I would write my first draft with all the emotion I had inside and let it out. I then would hand the first letter to someone else more rational at the time to read. This gave me time to calm down and reflect. He or she would confirm what I was beginning to realize to throw that letter away or shred it and start over in a calm, more sane state. It served two purposes, it was an excellent way to let my aggressive anger out and then write a letter like Papa Bill suggested which may serve my cause. Writing an aggressive, accusatory, threatening letter will get you nada as the others have mentioned.

I once had an incident with a hospital health care worker who was extremely incompetent in her job. My first draft was almost unprintable, I was so angy. My second draft with the facts and very objective, sent through the proper channels was well recieved and ACTION was taken to my satisfaction..

Terri Ann
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Old March 16th, 2005, 07:59 AM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

Bill, that is good advice. Mark is writing a letter to the travel agent we have been having trouble with. I'm not sure if he put in the phrase "we will never do business with you again," but if he has, I don't blame him. Based on their past actions, I am positive that they won't take any action to address any of our complaints, because they don't care whether we stay their customers or not. We are writing the letter just to let them know that they have lost our business and that of our friends and family.

Cheers,
Michelle P.

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Old March 16th, 2005, 09:32 AM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

My mother always taught me that you catch more flies with honey.....

I try to be polite when I make a complaint. I also try to put in the phrase "I know this isn't YOUR fault personally, I'm just upset at ABC Company." This one phrase will get you a long way with someone, particularly if they can get you talking to the RIGHT someone about your complaint.

I've worked in customer service before and the posters are right, once you say "I'm going to call my lawyer" then all communication *should* stop. Most businesses will say, "Well, okay, tell him/her to call *our* lawyer - his name is....."

dorothy

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Old March 16th, 2005, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

Excellent Bill! People should cut and paste and print it out and stick it to their desk lamp ot forehead, which ever keeps them looking at it. <VBG> Well said my friend, well said.
Jim

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Old March 16th, 2005, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: How to address a complaint

I agree with dorothy about using "you". When I am at work nothing makes me more angry than when a customer says "YOU filled my prescription wrong. Usually the doctor changed the medication or the patient is confused. Once they put the blame on me I don't want to help them, but I do anyway.

well said papabill
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