Knowing how to complain effectively and nicely is hugely powerful. Many people think their only choice when they have a grievance is to either “make a scene” or bite their tongue. But this is not good for you or the person/company you feel has wronged you. If you learn how to complain effectively without damaging relationships, you win twice over, as the problem is addressed and the relationship may even be enhanced. Sound a bit idealistic? It’s not, but you need some effort and practice. Ah, knew there was a catch…But before you give up and go back to either ranting or ignoring, look at the cost of not addressing complaints.
The Costs of Not Complaining Effectively
Nadia and Nellie both expected a delivery of boxes from Bungling Boxes, which they had used for years without a problem. The boxes didn’t arrive, so they were delayed and upset that clients’ orders couldn’t be packed up. Potentially the orders would be late and customers angry. They each thought “I can either just get on with it or give them hell.”
Nellie’s Choice–Not complaining
Nellie fumed at the staff, told the customers that their orders would be late because Bungling Boxes had let her down and generally had a really bad day. She decided never to use BB again and spent the afternoon looking for an alternative supplier.
Nadia’s Choice–Giving them hell
Nadia posted her frustration on Facebook, Twitter the lot. Then rang Bungling Boxes to tell them how angry and disappointed she was and that she wanted compensation. She was never going to use them again and she had told everyone about it on social media. The receptionist from Bungling Boxes was very upset by Nadia’s tone and said angrily that she was very unfeeling and their contract meant they were not liable for any costs except replacement of the boxes. The company were in the process of notifying everyone to say that the van had been in an accident and the driver injured and they were sending out replacements. They then posted this information in response to Nadia’s comments
Nellie not complaining cost both parties. The cost to Bungling Boxes is high–they lost a customer. But not complaining cost Nellie a lot–stress, upset customers, and time spent finding a new supplier.
Nadia giving them hell cost them both a lot more and took longer to repair. Nadia felt bad, her customers saw what had happened on social media and thought less of her. She also had stress, upset customers and lost time complaining and looking for a new supplier.
Steps to Complain Effectively
- Calm down. Getting angry turns off your thinking brain.
- Don’t wait till the problem is huge–tackle it early.
- Decide what you really need and want to achieve–this is easier when you aren’t angry. When Nadia was mad, she wanted revenge, but actually what her business needed was boxes or a way of keeping her customers happy.
- Work out what you need to say and what will work best to achieve your main aim– usually being kind and asking for help works best at the beginning.
- Don’t go in firing the big guns first, threatening and demanding just makes people resistant and angry. Social media is tempting, but give people a chance to put things right first.
- State your case without blame and tell them what the consequences have been for you. Ask for help and their solution, don’t demand.
- Listen to their answer. Keep calm and keep your objective in mind.
- Then assess–if it isn’t resolved, what will help you get where you want to go–taking it up a notch or just moving on?
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