9 guiding principles for complaints handling

9 guiding principles for complaints handling

This article seeks to answer the question of how an organization should handle complaints raised by both internal and external customers. Reference is made to ISO 1002:2018 Quality management — Customer satisfaction — Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations. The aim of handling these customer complaints is 

  • Enhancing customer satisfaction. This is achieved by creating a customer-focused environment that is open to feedback, both negative and positive, to enhance the ability of an organization to improve its products and services
  • Understand the needs and expectations of the customers 
  • Analysis complaints- coming up with the root cause to prevent future re-occurrence
  • Top management commitment and involvement – to shed light on the loopholes in the organization and provide the necessary resources.
  • Provision for auditing of the complaint-handling process and reviewing it based on the effectiveness. 
  • Assuring your customers that they are being listened to – use of open, effective, and easy-to-use complaints process

ISO 10002:2018 gives guidelines that are applicable to organizations of all sizes and sectors. It is important to note that it does not apply to disputes referred for resolution outside the organization or for employment-related disputes.

Guiding principles 

  1. Visibility – Information on how and where to launch complaints should be publicized for all the interested parties to see. The suggestions box or complaints box should be clearly labeled. 
  2. Accessibility- A complaints-handling process should be easily accessible to all complainants. Information regarding complaints-handling should be in clear language easy to understand.

 The information offered should include;

  • Where complaints can be made- suggestions/complaints box, social media platforms – FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc
  • how complaints can be made- soft copy or hard copies, telephones calls, SMS, Direct Messages 
  • Information to be provided by the complainant – The nature of the complaint. The person the complaint is being leveled against, the time the dissatisfaction occurred, communication details, etc. different organizations will ask for specific information they regard necessary for handling the complaints.
  • The process for handling complaints- From the time it is recorded to the time the complaint is resolved. 
  • Time periods associated with various stages in the complaint handling process
  • How the complainant can get feedback regarding the status of the complaint.

 Customers are from all walks of life, and no one should be disadvantaged during complaint handling. Ready assistance should be provided to persons with difficulties in expressing their complaints and special attention should be accorded to the disadvantaged groups in the society i.e. Use of Braille for the blind people and large fonts or audio forms of complaints. 

  1. Responsiveness – The receipt of each complaint should be acknowledged to the complainant as soon as possible. All complaints should be addressed immediately according to their urgency. It is also very important to keep the complainant informed at times during the complaint-handling process. Decisions or any actions taken regarding the complaint launched should be communicated to complainants as soon as the decision or action is taken.
  2. Objectivity – all complaints should be handled in an objective, unbiased, and equitable manner. There should be no favoritism in the way the complaints are handled depending on whom they are raised. 
  3. Charges- Complaint handling mechanisms should be free of charge. No fee should be charged to someone expressing dissatisfaction. 
  4. Confidentiality- Personally identifiable information should be actively protected from disclosure unless the customer or complainant expressly consents to its disclosure. 
  5. Customer-focused approach- Organizations should show commitment to resolving the complaints received to give confidence to their customers. 
  6. Accountability- accountability for and reporting on the actions and decisions of the organization concerning complaints handling should be clearly established.
  7. Continual improvement- Organizations should have objectives of improving all the processes in the organization including the complaints-handling process. 

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