Written customer complaints are possibly the most serious type of customer problem that you may have. It takes almost no time at all for a customer to pick up the phone and complain, but to actually sit down and write down her concerns takes time and concentration. This customer offers you your biggest opportunity to turn a situation around and to change an angry person into a happy and satisfied return customer.
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Apply the basic customer service rules to this situation just as in any other. Listen to the customer, ask what he would like you to do to fix the situation, and do what it takes to satisfy the customer.
Listen to the customer by reading every word in the letter carefully. If the person is angry, she may not make a lot of sense, but in most cases her problem will be apparent. Whether it's a bad product or poor customer service, determine what went wrong with this customer.
Find out what this customer wants to make it right. In most cases this will be apparent by the wording in the letter. He is asking for a free product or he wants to know what you're going to do about a rude cashier. Determine a concrete solution to every customer's problem before contacting him, if possible.
Make the customer happy, no matter what. If she was missing a side item on a meal, offer an entire free meal. If there was a problem with a team member, write down the steps that will be taken in order to retrain that particular employee. Go above and beyond the normal customer service on this person.
Respond in writing, neatly and politely on company letterhead paper, if you have it. Reassure the customer that the problem is being dealt with, detail the ways with which it is being dealt, and add an offer to give some extra value. For instance, if you're working at a restaurant, tell the customer that you will give a free dessert the next time she comes in.
If you're working in a food service industry and your customer claims that the food made her or family members sick, do not reply in writing except to let her know that you are contacting the health department authorities. Save all letters and give photocopies to the health department. Written replies can be used in lawsuits against your company, so admit nothing in writing to the customer before any legal determination has been made.