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All of us have a story about an altercation with a company or individual.  These encounters can be frustrating and occasionally don’t get the desired result.  We want to offer some tips on getting results without getting steamed. 

Begin by sitting on the other side of the communication.  The person you are contacting probably didn’t cause your problem and is most likely charged with resolving your issue satisfactorily.  You want to encourage this person to respond positively your complaint. 

  • Concise – state your concern clearly without paragraphs or unnecessary information

  • Professional – letters and calls that are presented reasonably have more creditability and are taken seriously

  • Factual – allow your audience to see immediately the relevant details, dates, requirements, etc., and to justify action to resolve the complaint.  Long, wandering accounts of your situation will not get your issue resolved quickly.  Bullet points are a great way to organize your information.

  • Constructive – being reasonable and suggesting positive actions will encourage faster resolution. 

  • Friendly – communications presented with a considerate, cooperative and complimentary tone - are prioritized because the recipient responds positively to the request and wants to help.   Note to people who yell in writing or over the phone:  Stop.  It’s the quickest way to get moved to the bottom of a great big pile.  

Next, let’s think about how to get your written communication read or phone call heard.  A great idea is to follow the AIDA pattern – attention, interest, desire, and action.  This process of persuasion can be used both in written complaints and verbal interactions.  After all, aren’t you persuading the person or company to see your point and take action?

In the heading identify the issue, the product, service, person, and reference code or transaction number.  State the simple facts and dates.

Tell the reader the result you want.  Dropping a complaint bomb without clearly stating what would make you happy is just piling on the misery.  The recipient isn’t a mind reader – tell them what you want or expect them to do.

If the situation is complicated, make your main point(s) in a short letter or email and attach the details.  Then you have allowed the reader to understand your main point without reading multiple pages of information.

If you are very angry, sleep on it before you send any communication.  Threatening people seldom produces good results. Also remember that the person reading your letter just wants to do a good job, be happy, to get through the day without being upset. Be nice to people.  The person reading the letter is your best ally - keep them on your side and they will do everything they can to resolve the problem - it's their job.

Keep it simple.  Tell your reader that you'd like to find a way forward, rather than terminate the relationship. When you say that you're taking your business elsewhere, and that you're never using them again, etc., then you have removed their incentive to look for a good outcome.  

Businesses worth patronizing work harder for loyal customers.  They also want customers to let them know when the company has disappointed the customer.  So it helps to be seen as a positive and constructive customer rather than a negative, critical one. It helps for your complaint to be seen as an opportunity to improve things, rather than an arena for confrontation and divorce.  You are helping improve companies when you constructively complain.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.