In the modern society where most people have access to social media, there has been an increase in complaints against companies being lodged in the public sphere. As this may lead to a reputational risk for a business, we suggest that an effective Complaints Handling procedure is adapted in dealing with customer complaints. The process followed will be available as proof of complaints being dealt with in a timeous and reasonable fashion.
The 6-step procedure suggested in the instance can be set out as follows:
- Have a Complaints Policy in place
This relates to incorporating a procedure in terms of which all complaints are received and dealt with by the company in an adequate and timeous manner. This include documenting the nature of the complaint itself and steps taken to resolve all issues.
The standard Complaints Register provided by the SEESA Consumer Protection and POPI department together with the complaints procedure can assist you in this regard.
- Investigate the matter sufficiently
Although this may be a very onerous process at times, the complaint need to be investigated thoroughly.
An example: if your employees are involved and depending on the seriousness of the accusations appropriate disciplinary actions steps should be taken against individuals, if they have found to have been acting in contravention of the guidelines relating to clients relations.
- Resolving the complaint with the client
Subsequent to the investigation and in the event that the company believes that a serious contravention of the Act has taken place, reasonable steps should be taken to resolve the complaint received amicably.
- Feedback given to the client
Feedback needs to be provided to clients regarding the steps followed in investigating and resolving the query.
This should be approached in such manner that the client feels vindicated as the query was dealt with, with the necessary seriousness.
- Refer the complainant where necessary to a relevant regulatory body where complaints can be lodged with
In the event that the client doesn’t feel vindicated the complainant should be referred when appropriate to a regulatory authority whom may investigate the matter further.
This will prevent complaints being lodged on social and public platforms that may cause a huge reputational risk for companies.
- Involvement of the SEESA Consumer Protection and POPI department
In all of this procedures SEESA Consumer Protection and POPI Legal Advisors should be involved in order to provide feedback and advise, to correspond where possible on the company’s behalf and in the event if possible and permittable either be present or represent the company in meetings with the complainant and or regulatory body where complaints may be lodged with.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jano Fourie is currently a SEESA Consumer Protection & POPI Legal Advisor since August 2011 and has almost 7 years previous experience as an attorney. He obtained his BA Law and LLB degrees from the University of Stellenbosch. He also obtained a Masters Degree in Tax Law from Unisa.