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06 The skills and behaviours needed for ... > Dealing with complaints in writing - Pg. 93

skills for dealing with Complaints 93 dealing with complaints in writing In order to ensure a speedy reply to a complaint, best practice is to pick up the phone to the customer. Nevertheless, there may be times when you are unable to reach the customer by phone or when you need to write a response letter to the customer. In many market sectors regulatory requirements set out a timescale for written responses. My experience is that the standard of letter writing has declined in recent years, not helped by the widespread use of text-speak. As a result, more organizations are turning to the use of letter templates to make it easier for customer-service agents to write response letters. This is fine as long as the agent remembers to delete the parts of the letter template that are not relevant to the customer. I received a letter recently that included the instructions to the agent for completing the template, which the agent had not deleted! Every organization will have its own house style and tone of communica- tion. I am a great believer in the use of plain English in all written corre- spondence so the message is crystal clear. Sadly, it seems that some letter writers feel that as soon as they put pen to paper, they need to adopt a lengthy, bureaucratic way of speaking. Here are two letters, both from the same company, that I received some time ago when I complained about a rail journey. The train that I was on broke down in a tunnel and I and other passengers had to wait for four hours without heat or electricity before we could continue with our journey. Not only is the language rather bureaucratic in both letters, but both are clearly standard letters with no personalization or reference to my specific complaint. Furthermore the letters both contain jargon. The first letter acknowledges my complaint but gives no timeline for when the company will write again. In addition I find the second letter is full of justification and excuses about why the situation occurred. This does not reassure me as a customer.