Dissatisfied customer: how to manage their complaint?

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Customer satisfaction is the main concern of structures/companies. Good management of complaints demonstrates to the customer the ability to listen and react, so you better manage it well! How to ensure effective management of customer complaints? All the answers in this article.


Sometimes, the customer may express his dissatisfaction with the products/services provided: an internal procedure is then set in motion to deal with the customer's complaint. The processing of customer complaints allows the complaint to be taken into account, to be dealt with efficiently, and to ensure a return to the satisfaction of the customer concerned.  Below is an example of how a customer complaint case is handled in a food company. 


Specific case of a customer complaint: a bolt found in a delicatessen-style salad

What a horrible situation! When you open your inbox in the morning only to see that you've just received an angry email from one of your customers who found a bolt in a delicatessen-style salad... You better react and fast!


Step 1: Collection and creation of a complaint record

Who's complaining? What's the motive? On which product/service? Which order is concerned and on what date?

You will have to answer all of these questions in order to retrieve as many elements as possible that will allow you to debrief the quality department. NB: this step is important, as it may happen that the claim is not justified!


Step 2: Acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint

Once the problem has been identified, don't forget to send an acknowledgement of receipt to the customer concerned as soon as possible: generally, the recommended deadline is 24 hours. This acknowledgement certifies that the complaint has been officially taken care of and indicates the steps taken by the company to deal with it.


 Step 3: Conduct an Internal Investigation

 If the customer in question has found a bolt in a salad, other products may be involved. Therefore, an internal investigation will have to be carried out to identify the potential source of the problem. In this specific case, this will involve, among other things, the following:

  • check the metal detector records;
  • check shipping records;
  • interview maintenance team on the maintenance of the production line in question;
  • check the products of the same production in the sample library. 

These checks are essential to rule out the risk of finding other pieces of metal in salads of the same production.


Step 4: Process the customer complaint 

After the acknowledgement of receipt, you will have to write a letter of complaint processing: in this document, you explain to the customer the possible cause of that non-conformity, and the actions you will take internally to prevent it from happening again.

In this case, the customer must also be compensated: it is advisable to refer to a compensation grid that defines the amount of compensation according to the importance of the problem identified.


Step 5: Setting up internal actions

This is a root cause analysis phase of non-conformity The problem must be avoided at all costs in the future! In this specific case this will be for example :

  • to carry out maintenance on the metal detectors (grading, calibration...) ;
  • to carry out operators training (on line and on dispatch);
  • to perform maintenance on all relevant machines.


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Points to watch out for 

Above all, don't forget: responsiveness! An e-mail or a call can very often go unanswered. A piece of advice: you can equip yourself with dedicated digital tools for collecting your complaints. This will enable you to manage all your complaints on the same platform and not miss an email lost in your inbox.


Don't try to minimize the customer's problem or show them that they are wrong. This will not necessarily work in your favour! Also, do not blame anyone else in your service/company. The whole organization is affected! Try to understand the problem with the customer, preferably directly on the phone (or in person!). Apologize on behalf of the company and discuss possible solutions with the customer.


It is therefore essential to have an internal procedure in place to manage your customer complaints, particularly because of the very short response times. This approach requires you to take a step back from the situation, as well as a great deal of rigour. As far as the non-conformities identified are concerned, it will be necessary to study them in depth to prevent this from happening again in the future!


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