How to escalate a customer complaint

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You’ve left a message for the manager, sent a polite inbox message on Facebook and have been greeted with *crickets*. It’s time to take things to the next level and escalate your complaint. But what does this mean? And how should you go about doing it? Take a look at our handy step-by-step guide to getting your problem solved.

1. Complain without delay, preferably in person

When it comes to customer service, there’s no time like the present. Try and get your problem solved as soon as you identify it. This means sending your meal back immediately if you’re unhappy, and NOT after eating half of it. Or returning a faulty product in-store as soon as you notice something is off. 

Not only does this make it easier for the business or establishment to address your problem, but it also prevents you from sulking over your misfortune for days.

2. Research their complaints process

So, you didn’t catch the problem in time and now you’re sitting at home simmering over subpar service. Your best bet is to go online and visit their website. 

Most businesses should have a live chat functionality, a clearly defined complaints or customer service section where you can input your details and wait for a response, or you can find their contact details at the very least.

Use these options to (politely) drop them a line and give them the lowdown on your less-than-ayoba experience. Give them a reasonable amount of time – around 48 hours – to respond. 

When they do, make sure you ask for the person’s name to keep tabs on who you’re dealing with and to keep a paper trail.

3. Give them a call

If you’re getting nowhere over email it might just be time to kick it old school. Phone them up, and ask to speak to the manager. Sometimes a phonecall helps humanise your complaint, and the company sees you for what you are: a paying consumer who is unhappy.

Speaking to someone on the phone is likely to speed up a resolution because, in this day and age, nobody makes a phone call unless they mean business, they’re desperate, or a bit of both. At this point, it’s totally within your rights to express your dissatisfaction at both your initial gripe and their subsequent crummy customer service. Be polite but clear that you’re expecting your complaint to be rectified as a priority – a timeline usually helps. 

Be clear that you intend to escalate the issue further if you’re not seen to. Ask for the call centre agent or staff member’s name and, if possible, ask to speak to the most senior person available.

4. Leave a review

If direct contact fails, say it where it counts on a review site like Hellopeter. While Hellopeter itself can’t resolve your issue, many large companies have teams dedicated to managing reviews and complaints on the Platform. Their image is on the line, after all. 

Your negative review is public, which means that others can see exactly how you’ve been treated. This can be done in conjunction with step five.

5. Take to social media

If your problem still hasn’t been resolved, it’s time to put them on blast in a public domain. Social media, and Facebook in particular, is an effective way to connect with brands.

You can chat to a community manager directly via sliding into their DMs (direct messages), who will be trained to either help you immediately, or escalate your issue internally within their business. 

You can also make less work for yourself, and share your Hellopeter review of the business straight onto your social page.

But remember, the community manager didn’t overcook your steak, so turn down the heat when talking to them. Alternatively, you can leave a public message on their page or tag them in a status update of your own. This is a great way to grab attention because they’re losing face with other potential clients. Which is not a good look.

6. Consider escalating internally

Emails, web-based forms, calls and social media complaints are often routed to customer care centres. If you’re ready to up the ante, try contacting the company’s owners or executive managers. Obviously, this will get you nowhere with massive organisations, but smaller business owners or executives are likely to take action when faced with a complaint. Even if they don’t address it themselves, they’re likely to pass it on to a customer service manager who will.

7. Get the law on your side

When all else fails, call in the big guns. You may reach the point where legal help is the only option available. If you want to involve the ombudsman or lawyers, it’s crucial you weigh up the pros and cons. Is it worth it? Have you done your homework? Obviously, going the legal route over soggy fish and chips isn’t advised. 

Now you know the order you need to follow to get a complaint sorted out. Do with this information what you will. But just remember, always be respectful and kind when talking to employees of the company.

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