It makes sense to communicate clearly and act without delay when carrying out any instructions. Exactly the same applies when framing your response to a complaint. We’ve given some more tips in Principles 4 and 5.
Regrettably, we do see responses that include inappropriate comments, or can be mis-interpreted. We’ve set out some more tips here (Principle 4 link) and here (Principle 5 link). It’s very important that even if you disagree with the basis of the complaint, you should respond in an impartial, clear and respectful way. We suggest that your response could:
- Reaffirm your commitment to good service and thorough investigation, as well as recording the result.
- Demonstrate that you have considered and are commenting on all the issues raised. Sometimes a “composite” answer will be appropriate, but whether you choose to respond issue by issue or in general, you should give as full an explanation as possible. Remember that a well-crafted response to the complainer can equally serve as a good explanation to the SLCC, if the complaint reaches us.
- Clearly record your conclusion on each aspect raised by the complainer. You might demonstrate how the firm took steps to protect the complainer’s interest, but you might also concede that the firm could have explained this more clearly to the client. Your response to a third party can provide details if your client has consented to this, but even if no consent was given, you should confirm that each element has been investigated but you cannot reveal privileged information.
- Reiterate that a complainer can approach the SLCC if dissatisfied, and provide at least the SLCC’s website details and phone number; the complainer may not have your Terms of Business at this point.
- Mark your response as “final”. Some complainers tell the SLCC that they couldn’t complain earlier because they were still trying to persuade the CRM to re-consider.
Analyse and take lessons from the complaint, particularly the stage at which the dissatisfaction arose, to help you think about whether other clients might be facing the same issues, and how to avoid them in future. Check our tips in Principle 6 of our statutory guidance.