Did you get a letter of complaint, and you don’t know how to address it? Well, don’t ignore it because ignoring a letter of complaint suggests a lack of caring. Here are some tips for helping you address a letter of complaint:
Don’t point the finger. Starting off your answer letter with the pronoun you quickly sets your efforts up for failure. The pronoun you actually moves the problem away from yourself and toward the other person. While, you might feel the other person is to blame, you don’t want to use blaming language because it only causes the person you blame to set out with a defense. In short, it turns the person you blame away from you, causing your message to fail. You don’t want the complainer to blame you, so don’t blame the complainer.
Unite with audience. It is always best to unify with your audience (the complainer) as soon as possible. Certainly, it is necessary by the end of your answer letter, but why not in the beginning of the letter? It serves as best practice to unify with your audience by the end of the first paragraph. Instead of saying I apologize for your problem (or the problem), why not say that we’ve failed in a certain area. This invites your reader in as part of the solution, rather than allowing him/her to see himself/herself outside of the solution.
Extend benefit of the doubt. You might want to let loose and place the problem back on the complainer, but don’t. Remember, this solves nothing. It just shows the complainer that you’re mad, and causes the complainer to quickly assume a defensive position. Even more, you hurt your own credibility by display a less-than-professional attitude. So, be sure to extend the benefit of the doubt by saying that you were sure that something was an oversight, or maybe that the complainer misunderstood.
Don’t shout. Using all capital letters when writing is equivalent to shouting, so don’t shout. This adds a negative tone to your answer letter, and you won’t likely get results this way. If you do, they won’t be the results that you desire. Shouting (or using profanity) in an answer letter could cause the complainer to dig in his/her heels and not even want to consider working with you on a remedy for the problem. Don’t cut off communication by using a negative tone with your words.
Be courteous. Understand that the complainer does not even have to read your letter. The complainer actually extends you a courtesy when he/she reads your answer letter, so make the most of the time you have with the complainer. Be courteous. Yes, do suggest a specific solution or invite the complainer in to help you with finding a solution. Even so, do it in the form of asking, not demanding. Too, be sure to close your answer letter by thanking the complainer for taking the time to bring the problem to your attention and close with an appropriate salutation.