01 July 1998

A 'GRIPE-MARK' for companies that handle customer complaints to a satisfactory and measurable standard is planned by the British Standards Institution. Following consultations with consumer bodies and various trade associations, including the British Retail Consortium, the BSI has published a 26-page draft Guide to Positive Complaints Management. This urges companies to treat complaints-handling as part of their overall service, so that those at the sharp end are not so defensive. All employees who deal direct with customers, the guide argues, should be trained to deal with complaints, and as many as staff as possible given authority to resolve them. This would enable routine problems to be dealt with before customers get angry. For difficult or complicated cases, each organisation should designate a ‘complaints controller’. The BSI says consumers have become more demanding because of the high standards attained by some companies in dealing with complaints. This leads to anger with other organisations who simply shunt complainants from pillar to post.