Dealing with complaints against your business
We give you information about your rights and responsibilities. We also have a conciliation service to help resolve disputes.
You should try to reduce customer complaints through:
- excellent customer service
- addressing complaints quickly and fairly.
Dealing with customer complaints
Develop an effective customer complaint policy by:
- considering how effectively you currently handle complaints
- involving your staff in developing a complaint handling system
- deciding who will handle complaints
- writing down your complaint handling procedure
- making a standard complaint form
- making sure all staff are trained in the procedure and complaints resolution
- displaying a sign saying you welcome genuine complaints about product quality or service
- clearly advising customers where and how they can report problems
- making sure your customers can report problems to you at any time
- recording all problems and complaints
- trialling the system and using customer and staff feedback to improve it over time.
There are Australian Standards for complaint handling and customer service which may be useful guides.
To show that you clearly understand a customer’s complaint, you may:
- research the issue before you speak with them
- check internal records
- speak to staff and check how their version of events compares with the customer's.
When a customer has a genuine complaint, you may:
- thank them for raising the matter with you
- treat them with genuine empathy, courtesy, patience, honesty and fairness
- try to respond to the complaint quickly
- tell the customer how you will handle it and when to expect a response.
Speak to the customer in person. Do not rely on written complaints or records of conversations.
When you speak to the customer, ensure that you:
- listen carefully
- don’t jump to conclusions, lay blame or become defensive
- ask questions to clarify the situation
- summarise back to the customer your understanding of the problem
- tell the customer what will happen next.
Where possible, nominate one staff member to manage the complaint until it is resolved. Give this staff member authority to organise solutions that the customer will accept. This could be refunds, replacements or free services.
Adopt a solution-focused approach, actively involving the customer in the process. Make sure you take all promised action as quickly as possible.
When you find a solution, tell the customer and check they are happy with the resolution.
Tell the customer how you will stop the problem from happening again.
If you cannot successfully resolve a complaint yourself, you have other options.
Mediation is a way to settle a dispute without taking legal action. It lets you and the other party meet with two neutral mediators who will help you discuss the dispute.
Mediation saves time and money. It helps people reach an agreement in 90 per cent of cases. You can get free mediation from one of our dispute resolution centres.
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)
Sometimes you may need to lodge a claim with QCAT.
Generally, QCAT is concerned with disputes between consumers and traders. For more information, visit the QCAT website.