Customer complaints – not necessarily a bad thing

Staff of not for profit (NFP) organisations appear to fear complaint calls. No one loves them. But, I believe complaint calls are a good thing. Complaints via telephone calls, letters, Emails, and social media give you something to respond to and to action. Wouldn’t you rather receive a complaint than have someone agitated and no tell you. Those are the types of people who tell ten more people about the situation.

Whenever a NFP receives a complaint, the following five steps ought to be done:

  • Ensure the proper personnel are in contact with the complainant.
  • Contact the person making the complaint in a more personal manner than the complaint was received. i.e. If the complaint came in writing, call the person.
  • Attempt to resolve the situation and maintain the engagement of the party. The situation may often times be “turned around” for the benefit of the complainant and the charitable organisation.
  • Document the complaint in your CRM, tracking the type and subject of the complaint for later analysis.
  • Review and analyse complaints on a monthly basis. Improve internal processes to reduce and eliminate complaints accordingly.

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted NSW Fair Trading Complaints Register and how the likes of Groupon,, Grays Online and NRMA were able to address complaints, reduce them, and no longer appear on the list. Whereas Ray White and Anytime Fitness appeared amongst the most complained about business.

The NFP industry lacks a list similar to the NSW Fair Trading Complaints Register. In some cases we are lucky there is no actual complaint list for NFPs. That said, shouldn’t each NFP have a process in place to address complaints, reduce complaints, so we are ensuring a register does not become necessary?