Complaints. It’s a tricky topic isn’t it? What if we call it feedback? Or constructive criticism? No matter what we label it, no one enjoys receiving a complaint. Particularly when it’s something that could be affecting someone’s home life, which, for property managers will most likely always be the case. But we are human. We get things wrong. And a lot of the time, much of what happens in a property management company can be out with your control. Whether that’s the weather hampering progress on a job, a contractor not completing a job on time for whatever reason, a missed piece of communication or something else, there will always be challenges.
We could do everything to try to stop complaints from happening, bury our heads in the sand when they do occur or pretend we don’t receive complaints, but that wouldn’t help anyone. In fact, studies have shown that companies who successfully deal with complaints fair better than those who don’t.
How do you deal with complaints and is your process serving to help or hinder your property management company? We’ve scoured the internet to find some good and bad examples of complaints handling and we’re going to share our favourites in this article. Hopefully it will help you assess how you handle complaints, and what, if anything, needs to be tweaked or worked on.
When you think of the last time you complained to a business, who was it, how was it? Were you satisfied with the outcome? Chances are, if your complaint was to First Direct you would have been very happy. First Direct was named 2019’s service champion according to a Which report. 94% of respondents gave First Direct positive ratings sending them ahead of Lakeland and Marks & Spencer (clothing and homewares).
When you look at First Direct’s dedicated complaints page on their website, you begin to get a feel for the culture and attitude of the organisation and who you are doing business with.
“Trying to be perfect isn’t the same as actually being perfect. We know that from time to time things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we mess things up.
And when we do, we need to know – so we can find out what went wrong, try to make it up to you and stop it from happening again.”
The language they use is clever and human. Words like ‘listening’, ‘we mess things up’ and ‘we need to know to stop it from happening again’. These words and phrases provide First Direct customers with a lot of confidence in the business. That they plan to do their best, but that if it does go wrong, they will fix it. And then use that experience to learn not to make that mistake again. It’s clever, it’s transparent, and clearly it’s true with a rating of 94% (hey you can’t please all the people all the time).
They then go on to provide a variety of ways to tell them about what’s happened – phone, online and in writing. Their online form isn’t even a form, it’s a very simple messaging service that asks the basics – making it easy to submit the problem.
Then they tell customers what will happen when they do get in touch. Complete with timescales depending on what the complaint is about. They make sure to tell people they will keep them updated along the way – showing that they understand how important communication is when rectifying things when things go wrong.
Key takeaways? Language is everything. Make it simple for people to get in touch. Build trust. Put a robust process in place that keeps the customer informed if required.
The coulda, shoulda do better
Sticking with the same Which report, let’s look at the business that didn’t fair well. Ryanair. The business was described as, “Very poor at handling complaints and most likely to be described as ‘greedy’ and ‘sneaky’.” Are you surprised by this?
To be fair to them, they do offer a complaints process. Whilst they do offer the options of contacting them by post or email (no telephone), they’ve decided that the quickest way to file a complaint is to use their online form. And they’re so intent on this method of contact that they include the link to their form twice and don’t provide an email address to contact.
All in all, it’s a very basic complaints process that clearly doesn’t work to restore any confidence in their brand. But then, do they really care?
Key takeaways? Do better than Ryanair. No matter what, the customer must always be at the forefront of a business.
How does your property management company compare to First Direct or Ryanair? Have you reviewed your complaints or ‘listening’ process recently? Do you know if your clients are happier after their complaints are resolved? If not, it might be worth a check to see what’s working and what could be improved.
Get in touch with us if you would like to discuss improving your complaints procedure.