Target your objective when you send a complaint, or when you request customer service assistance. Win the customer service letter battle by mastering your own frustration and putting together a polite, coherent request for a remedy. Write a customer service letter to get results by following a few simple guidelines, very much like the tradition among newspaper reporters.
Address your letter carefully. "Make sure you're sending it to...the one who can act on it," says Rosalie Maggio, author of How to Say It.
Research the appropriate name and address; don't guess or assume. Address your complaint to "John Smith, Director of Customer Service, ABC Gadget Corporation" with the appropriate street address rather than simply "Customer Service Department."
Call the company office for the information, search online resources such as Hoover's (resource below), or try the Better Business Bureau if you need more assistance.
What, Where and When?
Use dignified language in your letter. Identify the product or service that is the topic of your complaint. Specify details such as make, model, year, date of delivery or installation date.
"When describing the problem, be specific and to the point. Merely stating that the product 'did not work' does not provide sufficient information. A detailed summary of your complaint will assist the company in resolving your problem," suggests The RocketLawyer website, which provides customer complaint letter templates.
"I purchased a MagnaGadget set three weeks ago and began experiencing problems as soon as I unpacked it. The Gadgets wouldn't stay on the rack or on the handle," gives much more information than "Your products stink!" Provide the company with the tools they need to address your complaint.
List the steps you've taken thus far to resolve the problem. Explain what you've done and what response you've received.
"The store where I purchased the set referred me to your local customer service department here in Metro. Mr. George Allenby at that office stated they were unable to help me since I purchased the set from a discount outlet. My purchase was based on ABC's reputation for reliable gadgets and I am very disappointed in the response so far."
Offer a specific and satisfactory solution to the problem. "I believe ABC makes a good product. This is probably just a minor glitch to the company, but it is a big problem for me. If ABC would replace the defective MagnaGadget set, I would be happy." Give the company a way to make things right, but be reasonable.
Treat the recipient of the letter as you wish to be treated: Dignity and firm good manners will give you a better result than rudeness and offensive behavior. Follow this advice: "...remember to be tactful, but firm. If you feel you've been wronged, stick to your guns and do not be satisfied until the problem has been corrected," stressed here by Margaret McCarthy in Letter Writing Made Easy. Earn the respect of the letter's recipient with a polite and reasonable approach and you'll be much more likely to get the problem resolved to your satisfaction.
More Letter-Writing Information
Complaint Letters for Busy People; John Bear and Maria Bear, 1999
Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed: How to Write Letters of Complaint That Get Results; Ellen Phillips, 1998
Mary Beth Magee began her writing career with an article in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" more than 40 years ago. She has been published in local and national media, including "Real Estate Today" and "Just Praising God." Magee holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology, with a focus on adult learning, from Elmhurst College.