Responding to complaint letters can be a stressful experience, but it is important to remember that this type of correspondence is a business engagement. No matter how rude or threatening the complaint letter may be, the important thing is to conduct yourself like a professional and answer the concerns raised by the letter objectively.
The first thing to decide when you are answering complaint letters is what your concession will be, or if you will offer any sort of rebate. To decide this, you must consider the merits of the person's complaint as well as their potential value as a customer.
Sometimes, even if you think the person's complaint does not warrant any sort of response, it can still be beneficial to include a small rebate to dissuade that person from leaving negative feedback or spreading negative associations with your brand by word of mouth.
If you recognize that you or your business have done wrong, it may be beneficial to offer a generous concession of some kind. This itself can sometimes serve as advertising, particularly when the person is vocal on social networks.
To construct an effective response to a complaint letter, you should begin by thanking the person for their business and for writing. In your first paragraph, establish your role in the interaction and identify your relationship to the problem they are writing about.
In the second paragraph, you should go through the person's complaint letter point by point. If at all possible, you should paraphrase their words rather than quote them, because paraphrasing demonstrates that you thought about what they said. When a letter's complaints are too complex, irrational, or illogical to be paraphrased, you may fare better by quoting them.
Each of the points raised in the complaint letter should be addressed in your response. If possible, you should explain what you are doing to fix the problem and state that the negative activity is not standard behavior in your business.
The final paragraph, which draws the complaint letter response to a close, should contain an explanation of your concession. If you are offering a rebate or coupon, specify the amount and what it can be used for.
In some cases, you may not be in a position to offer a tangible concession. When this is the case, it is best to offer a sincere apology and explain how the person's complaints will affect the business in the future. Most people who take the time to complain to companies really want to feel that they have had an impact on your company and that their complaints are being heard.
The way you send your response is the final step to replying to these letters. By email, your options are limited, but a paper letter can really tell a loyal customer that you care about their thoughts. By using company letterhead and signing a response to a complaint letter by hand, you stand a much better chance of creating a lasting relationship with the person who sent the complaint.