A customer quality-control structure that incorporates legal and operational solutions can help decrease the number of customer complaints and soften their impact. Here are a few of the building blocks in that structure: • Create a toll-free, dedicated customer-complaint hotline.

• Appoint someone with good customer relations skills as vice president of quality control. Make that person answerable only to top senior management.

• Categorize complaints coming in to the hotline. The VP of QC should contact the consumer by phone within one business day. For a service or warranty issue, schedule an inspection to occur within one week. Highlighting your policy on a warranty card or on the contract will often drastically reduce customer complaints to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the state’s attorney general.

• Mailed or emailed complaints: Respond to the consumer or agency within five business days. If possible, schedule a face-to-face appointment to occur within one week.

• Posted online complaints: Use set scripts showing site visitors that you are willing to speak and address the problem if the person contacts the company offline.

• Make sure that your warranty is written in plain English and is “customer-friendly.”

• Establish a quality-control procedure for final installation on every job including a completion certificate signed by the client at final install.

• If the client was particularly difficult to work with, the VP of QC should make a follow-up call—and record it—reconfirming the client’s satisfaction. Make sure you understand state and federal laws on how to record conversations before you do this.

• Publish the details of your quality-control and customer-satisfaction program on your Web page or on a handout.

Always remember to contact legal counsel to discuss any complaint from the BBB, the attorney general, or a similar government agency. 

—D.S. Berenson is the Washington, D.C., managing partner of Berenson LLP, specializing in the representation of contractors. info@berenson.com

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

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