Through my working life, I’ve handled and had to respond to the odd letter of complaint. So, here are a few tips on the basis of my own experience.
Don’t write a letter of complaint. Give feedback. A letter of complaint sounds like this: whingy, whingy, whine, whine, I’m the centre of the universe, mehne nah nah, poo poo. Feedback though, feedback is reasoned and calm and logical.
State facts, not emotions. Avoid words like ‘disappointed’, ‘devastated’, ‘upset’, ‘angry’ or ‘shocked’. Avoid exaggerated phrases like ‘I just couldn’t believe that’ or dramatising rhetoric. On that note, there’ll be no name calling. You know this already, right? Good.
Find calmness. This isn’t easy. The whole reason you might write a letter/email of
complaint feedback is because you are, at the very least, quite annoyed. There are a couple of things you can do to ensure calmness. Firstly, write the letter you want to write. Let it pour out of your head like sewerage into a treatment plant. THEN treat it – throw it out, delete it, or set it aside. THEN, write the letter you should write. Secondly, get someone else to edit your letter or even write it on your behalf.
It’s not about you. I mean, it is about you, but you are giving feedback to prevent this from happening to someone else. Yes, really. You are the Good Samaritan trying to help. Thinking like this helps to distance you from the initial situation and makes it easier to sound rational and not whiny .
Was there malicious intent? It’s a good question to ask yourself before
making a complaint giving feedback. Has someone been a complete arse, or was this likely to be an honest mistake, an error of judgment or badly managed? It’s usually not the former. It is not in a business’s interest to annoy people, inconvenience people or give poor service and if that is their game plan, don’t expect a decent response to your feedback. In that case, you may need to take your complaint feedback to the next level.
Find the plus side. If you’ve had good experiences mixed in with your bad experiences, mention those too.
Get perspective. Is your grandmother about to die due to her appalling hospital care, or are your monogrammed slippers two days late on their delivery? It’s okay to be annoyed but one must have perspective. Recognise when something is merely annoying but not a matter of life and death. Think about what is happening in the world right now. Read the news. Think about a terrorist attack in Jakarta, an earthquake in Nepal or the death of a loved one. Get perspective.
Move on. Is the argument worth your time and /or money? You may even decide they’re not worth it. In the wise words of Elsa, let it go. And if you can, well done you.
Sometimes, simply writing the letter is all the therapy you need.