Handling complaints

Have you received a complaint about your business? Having a clear strategy for handling complaints is vital to a successful business.

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A customer complaint can actually help your business. Even if it's not your fault, working through the issues and offering a solution can turn even most upset customer into a champion of your business. This will lead to positive word-of-mouth and potential new customers.

Complaints handling procedure

Your complaints handling procedure should welcome complaints and resolve them immediately.

You should ensure that you:

  • listen sympathetically to the complaint
  • record the details and any relevant material, such as a receipt or damaged goods
  • offer to fix the problem through repair, replacement or refund
  • handling the complaint politely and quickly
  • provide a follow-up action, such as a letter of apology, to ensure the problem is resolved
  • train your staff to comply with the above.

Contracts with customers

Contracts document clear responsibilities and expectations for you and the customer. This will reduce the likelihood of disputes, as long as everyone complies to the contract. The contract should include dispute resolution clauses to encourage joint problem-solving.

Customer feedback

Feedback is essential for any business, as it tells you what customers want and need. How you get customer feedback depends on the type of business you have.

Some useful ways of getting feedback include:

  • short surveys with simple questions
  • talking to customers informally
  • watching what your main competitors are doing
  • hiring market research companies to survey your audience
  • running online discussion groups to understand customers' perceptions.

Get more help

For information about dispute resolution and mediation, visit the Victorian Small Business Commission website.