Presentation on theme: "HOW TO WRITE A LETTER OF COMPLAINT. Good complaints letters tend to produce better outcomes if they are: Concise letters can be understood quickly. Authoritative."— Presentation transcript:
HOW TO WRITE A LETTER OF COMPLAINT
Good complaints letters tend to produce better outcomes if they are: Concise letters can be understood quickly. Authoritative letters - letters that are well written and professionally presented - have more credibility and are taken more seriously. Factual letters enable the reader to see immediately the relevant details, dates, requirements, etc., and to justify action to resolve the complaint. Constructive letters - with positive statements, suggesting positive actions - encourage action and quicker decisions. Friendly letters - with a considerate, cooperative and complimentary tone - are prioritized because the reader responds positively to the writer and wants to help.
Think in terms of the acronym AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This is the fundamental process of persuasion. It's been used by the selling profession for fifty years or more. It applies to letters of complaints too, which after all, are letters of persuasion. The complaint letter attempts to persuade the reader to take action.
Structure your letter so that you include a heading - which identifies the issue and name of product, service, person, location, with code or reference number if applicable. Then state the simple facts, with relevant dates and details. Next state what you'd like to happen - a positive request for the reader to react to.
Include also, something complimentary about the organization and/or its products, service, or people. For example: "I've long been a user of your products/services and up until now have always regarded you are an excellent supplier/organization. I have every faith therefore that you will do what you can to rectify this situation."
An authoritative letter is especially important for serious complaints or one with significant financial implications. What makes a letter authoritative? Professional presentation, good grammar and spelling, firmness and clarity. Using sophisticated words (providing they are used correctly) - can also help to give your letter a more authoritative impression.
Keep in mind! What your letter looks like, its presentation, language and tone, can all help to establish your credibility - that you can be trusted and believed, that you know your facts, and that you probably have a point.
Resolving your complaint will involve a cost or 'investment' of some sort, however small, which needs justifying. If there's insufficient justification, the investment needed to solve the problem cannot be committed. So ensure you provide the relevant facts, dates, names, and details, clearly. Make sure you include all the necessary facts that will justify why your complaint should be resolved (according to your suggestion assuming you make one)
Accentuate the positive wherever possible. This means presenting things in a positive light. State the facts and then suggest what needs to be done to resolve matters. If the situation is complex, suggest that you'll be as flexible as you can in helping to arrive at a positive outcome. Say that you'd like to find a way forward, rather than terminate the relationship. If you tell them that you're taking your business elsewhere, and that you're never using them again, etc., then there's little incentive for them to look for a good outcome.
It may be surprising to some, but threatening people generally does not produce good results. This applies whether you are writing, phoning or meeting face-to-face. A friendly complimentary approach encourages the other person to reciprocate - they'll want to return your faith, build the relationship, and keep you as a loyal customer or user of their products or services. People like helping nice friendly people. People do not find it easy to help nasty people who attack them. This is perhaps the most important rule of all when complaining. Be kind to people and they will be kind to you. Ask for their help - it's really so simple - and they will want to help you.
Try to see things from their point of view. Take the trouble to find out how they work and what the root causes of the problems might be. In fact, complaints are best and quickest resolved if you take the view that it's nobody's fault. Attaching blame causes defensiveness - the barriers go up and conflict develops.
Take an objective view - it's happened, for whatever reason; it can't be undone, now let's find out how it can best be resolved. Try to take a cooperative, understanding, objective tone. Not confrontational; instead you and them both looking at the problem from the same side. If you use phrases like - "I realize that mistakes happen..."; "I'm not blaming anyone...."; "I'm sure this is a rare problem...", your letter (or phone call) will be seen as friendly, non-threatening, and non- confrontational. This relaxes the person at the other end, and makes them more inclined to help you, because you are obviously friendly and reasonable.
Check contracts, receipts, invoices, packaging, etc., for collection and return procedures and follow them. When complaining, particularly about expensive items, it's not helpful to undermine your position by failing to follow any reasonable process governing faulty or incorrect products. You may even end up with liability for the faulty product if the supplier is able to claim that you've been negligent in some way. For certain consumer complaints it's helpful to return packaging, as this enables the organization to check production records and correct problems if still present. If in doubt phone the customer services department to find out what they actually need you to return.
Introduction Letters of complaint usually include the following stages: Background Problem - cause and effect Solution Warning (optional) Closing
BACKGROUND 1 Background This section describes the situation; e.g. I am writing to inform you that the goods we ordered from your company have not been supplied correctly. I attended your exhibition Sound Systems 2011 at the Fortune Hotel (22-25 January) and found it informative and interesting. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the event was spoiled by a number of organizational problems.
BACKGROUND 2 I am a shareholder of Sunshine Bank and I am very concerned regarding recent newspaper reports on the financial situation of the bank. Your company is listed as the auditor in the latest annual report of the bank, so I am writing to you to ask for an explanation of the following issues. I am writing to inform you of my dissatisfaction with the food and drinks at the 'European Restaurant' on 18 January this year.
Problem: Cause On 25 November 2011 we placed an order with your firm for 12,000 ultra super long-life batteries. The consignment arrived yesterday but contained only 1,200 batteries. Firstly, I had difficulty in registering to attend the event. You set up an on-line registration facility, but I found the facility totally unworkable. You sent us an invoice for $10,532, but did not deduct our usual 10% discount. We have found 16 spelling errors and 2 mis-labelled diagrams in the sample book.
EFFECT This error put our firm in a difficult position, as we had to make some emergency purchases to fulfill our commitments to all our customers. This caused us considerable inconvenience. Even after spending several wasted hours trying to register in this way, the computer would not accept my application. I am therefore returning the invoice to you for correction. This large number of errors is unacceptable to our customers, and we are therefore unable to sell these books.
SOLUTION I am writing to ask you to please make up the shortfall immediately and to ensure that such errors do not happen again. Could I please ask you to look into these matters. Please send us a corrected invoice for $9,479 I enclose a copy of the book with the errors highlighted. Please re-print the book and send it to us by next Friday.
WARNING Warning (optional)Otherwise, we may have to look elsewhere for our supplies. I'm afraid that if these conditions are not met, we may be forced to take legal action. If the outstanding fees are not paid by Tuesday, 13 December 2011, you will incur a 10% late payment fee.
CLOSING I look forward to receiving your explanation of these matters. I look forward to receiving your payment. I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
POLITENESS Politeness The tone of complaint letters should not be aggressive or insulting, as this would annoy the reader and not encourage them to solve the problem. In addition, questions such as 'Why can't you get this right?' should not be included.
CONTENT The content should contain enough details so that the receiver does not have to write back requesting more. Legal action is not normally threatened in the first letter of complaint, unless the situation is very serious.
HOW TO RESPOND TO A LETTER OF COMPLAINT Figure out what you plan to do about the complaint. You can plan to do nothing. You can accept the complaint, or you can reject the complaint. Head the reply with the person's name and address who complained. Add the date. Plan to print the letter on your professional letterhead, or add your name and address as well
State that you have received the person's complaint letter and thank him for taking the time to write. This is the option to use if you plan to do nothing. If you are accepting the complaint, offer an apology. Let the person know that you will be investigating the issue or give him an explanation of what happened. (Choose one depending on the situation.)
If you are rejecting the complaint, explain to the person as politely and professionally as possible why the complaint is not valid, why you are not at fault or why you are not responsible for the issue he is complaining about.
State what you plan to do about the complaint. If you are doing nothing, state there's nothing you can do at this time. If you accept the complaint, tell the person what it is in your power to do. If you reject the complaint, you can also do nothing. You can refer the person to someone else who might do something, or you can offer the person something as amends for his being unhappy.
Let the person know how he can contact you with further questions. Include your typed name, signature and title at the bottom of the letter.