How to Write a Customer Complaint Letter

by Patti Wigington; Updated September 26, 2017

It's happened to everyone at least once. You've gone shopping, or to have some sort of service done, and you've had a terrible customer experience. Naturally, you're probably going to tell your friends all about it. However, if you want to make sure it doesn’t happen again, one of the best ways to get satisfaction is to write a customer complaint letter. It's not always fun to write one of these - after all, the only reason you're doing it is because you had a bad experience - but it can be done in a professional way that might get you some surprising results. Here's how to write a customer complaint letter that will get some attention from the people who read it.

How to Write a Customer Complaint Letter

Step 1

First of all, get a name. Find out whose attention the letter should go to. Don't just send it to "Attention: Customer Service", because then no one is accountable for it. Ask the store, either in person or on the phone, who the person is that's in charge of customer complaints. Any correspondence should be sent to that person's attention. If they have a title as well, be sure to include it, like this: "Attention: David Jones, Vice President of Marketing".

Step 2

Next, write your letter. Don't send e-mails; they're far too impersonal and it's easy for them to vanish into cyberspace. Send a regular letter, either to the store itself or to the corporate offices. Keep your letter brief and concise; no more than two pages should be all you need to explain the situation.

Step 3

When you're working on your letter, include the specifics of the situation. Say exactly what happened, such as, "When I was at your store on Tuesday, March 5, a cashier named Lorraine was extremely rude to me." If possible, document times. If it's a store or business where you have a numbered account, such as a department store or doctor's office, include your account number in all correspondence. That will help whoever reads your letter to connect your complaint with who you actually are.

Step 4

Use a positive, respectful tone. Chances are that your letter will be going to a senior administrative person, who will sympathize with your situation. Rather than being hostile, convey that you are an innocent victim. Even better, make it clear that you understand that such bad service isn't the company's normal standard, and that you know their business would never have deliberately treated you poorly. Remind them that you really do enjoy shopping there, but you want to make sure they're aware of a potentially damaging customer service situation.

Step 5

Finally, ask for a reply. Set a deadline, but make it a reasonable one. Say something like, "I hope to hear back from you within the next thirty days so that this matter can be resolved." If you don't hear back from the person you've written to in the time allotted, call or send a follow-up letter (yet another reason why you should get a person's name on the letter). Whatever the response is, whether it's a letter of apology or even coupons for additional products, send a thank-you note once the letter has been resolved. Follow these simple strategies, and you're sure to get a positive response to your customer complaint!

Tips

  • If at all possible, try to resolve the situation immediately after it happens. Chances are good that by talking to a manager or supervisor in person, you'll be able to get some satisfaction. If the supervisor or store manager won't take the time to speak to you, or if they dismiss you without resolving the problem, then go higher up the corporate ladder.

Warnings

  • Don't make unreasonable demands, like, "I want that mechanic fired!" or "I expect to be compensated for this inconvenience!" Unless you've really been financially damaged by the incident, a simple apology is a perfectly good response.

About the Author

Patti Wigington has been writing for nearly twenty years. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites and in a number of print publications, and she spent five years as a staff writer for a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper. She is the author of a children's book, a novel for middle grade readers, and two adult novels.