Some complaints are effective and others are not.  There are many reasons for this but one of the most crucial decisions (often underestimated) is the question of the addressee.  If your letter or email is well directed then it is far more likely to “hit the spot”.  These are my top tips on how best to identify the target of your complaint.
  • The not do the lazy thing and address your complaint to “The Customer Services Department”.  Your complaint will then simply be added to the pile of everyone else’s complaint and it will be totally undistinguishable.
  • Never address your complaint to “The Complaints Department”.  This does not exist.  It would be wonderfully refreshing if just one company were honest enough to name their so-called “Customer Services Department” “The Complaints Department” but this would probably be seen as too great an admission that things can go wrong.
  • Find a particular person high up in the organisation and write to him or her personally marking your letter accordingly.  This kind of information is usually very easy to find from the company’s website or from Companies House website.  The name of the Chairman or Managing Director is no secret.
  • It is often not a bad idea to come slightly left of field and write to someone other that the Big Cheese.  The Marketing Director or the Finance Director might just welcome your complaint and take ownership of the issue in question.  Some people have really boring jobs and you might just make their day with a light-hearted gripe.
  • Another devious tactic is to go even higher up in the organisation that might be obvious.  Many companies are owned by parent companies so why not write to the Chief Executive Officer of the parent who may well then dump on the subservient subsidiary from a great height.
  • As I have written about before, another favourite weapon of mine is the “Scatter-gun” by which I mean there is no reason not to write to everyone on the main board of the firm in question in the hope that at least one director will take up your cause.
  • Once you have gone to the top your complaint will doubtless be delegated to someone further down the food chain but that is okay – that person will know how serious the complaint is and once he or she writes to you you have a least a named individual to badger.  If that person fails to perform, go back to the top.