In one of my very early blogs, I told you to be prepared to fight and to get your boxing gloves on, well now let me elaborate on that: in order to fight effectively, you have to master the art of the complaint letter! A friend of mine, who works for the council, once told me that I should always put ‘Formal complaint’ in the title and first line of any letter as that meant that,in the public sector at least, that there is a whole documented system of complaint handling and you are more likely to get a fast response to your complaint.
I also don’t think it does any harm that I write most of my complaints in the wee small hours of the morning, so that I appear to be so angry that I cannot sleep! They do not know that I am an insomniac who is at her most creative in the early hours of the morning. I currently have 2 outstanding complaints within the NHS at 2 different hospitals and one with community health, but I wish to tell you about a complaint that I raised yesterday with our local town council :
On Saturday, we walked from our home into town, with Joshua in the wheelchair, to join in with the Carnival. as we turned out of our lane we had 100 yards of overgrown pavement to walk along. poor Joshua had nettles, grasses and thistles at his eye and bare arm level and try as I might, it was too narrow to steer him away from the weeds. once we got to the ‘Welcome to..’ sign, it was all beautifully trimmed and there was a beautiful display of begonias to welcome tourists to the seaside town. we faced the same difficulties on the way home and so I determined to complain when I got home.
Of course I forgot about it when we got home at tea time, but it came back to me at 3am yesterday. I went on the town council website and found the name and email address and explained to the named man what had gone on. I received a reply at 06.28 which I though was very impressive service. he thanked me for my complaint but explained that it was the local authority and not town council, who were responsbe for highways. he had kindly forwarded my email onto the relevant department. I did not expect to hear anything further from that.
I cycled to work yesterday in an attempt to get fit, when I bilked home for lunch at 2pm – less than 12 hours after I had made my complaint – I drove easily along the newly strimmed pavement back to our house, with a huge grin on my face. it may be coincidence, but I don’t think so. If not, that is impressive and until I hear otherwise, I will take the credit for that piece of highway maintenance.
So, It does work and is worth doing – do not expect someone else to complain for you, it only takes a moment to do if something is not right.
I am always fair though, in the way, if I receive good service – as we did in a hospital back in May – always take the time to thank someone in charge and complete any customer feedback forms. It may be because I work in market research, but I am passionate about giving and receiving feedback.