dealing with complaints

Home/wording/dealing with complaints

dealing with complaints

When you are chasing slow debtors, sometimes mistakes happen.

A client gets upset. It happens. We’re all human.

This post explains a simple 4-paragraph method to respond.



This is the complaint received at one of our clients recently.
Dear Andrew,

Please note that Invoice #12345 is an account for Mrs Jane Sands. It was only sent out from your offices and received by me in late February. A cheque was drawn and hand delivered to your firm on 09/03/09 together with my signed tax return.
This account has nothing to do with Mr John Sands or any of his affairs. John Sand’s account was paid on 16/10/08.

This is not the first time that I have had to complain that:
. the invoice for my affairs has been incorrectly addressed to my husband

. that demands for payment have been received by me for accounts which were received late and were
obviously not sent out at the original date of the invoice.

Could you kindly look into this matter.

Jane Sands.


This is the formula for dealing with written complaints always works. Just 4 short paragraphs.
Thank the client and confirm payment received.
The ‘thank you’ puts reader in a good frame of mind and ‘payment is here’ is another positive.
Explain what happened and apologise.

Describe what was done as a result of their complaint.
This demonstates to the the complainant that the mistake(s) should not occur again.

Thank the client, be grateful and apologise again.
All of this has been said at least twice before in the reply. Repeating them all again confirms to the client that you are genuine.


This is the reply sent to the complainant on behalf of our client using the formula.

Dear Mrs Sands,
Thank you for your email and for the payment of Invoice 12345. It has now been receipted.

Your fee was incorrectly “coded” to Mr John Sands account instead of to yours. Please accept my apologies for this repeated mistake.

As a direct result of your email I’ve changed a couple of processes
1: to do with the matching of invoices to the correct “code”, and
2: the other to do with the matching of fee dates to the actual mailing out of those fees.
So, thank you, for letting me know what had happened. I’m very grateful and apologise for any upset that may have been caused.

Andrew White


Why It Works:

  • It acknowledges that a mistake was made.
  • It explains how the mistake occurred and apologises for the first time.
  • It shows the complainant that their complaint has had a positive result. This is also a subtle, silent “thank you” – a second ‘thank you’.
  • The repetition of ‘thank you’, ‘I’m grateful’ and apology ends the reply on a very positive note for the complainant.
  • The response is not sent by the person who did the work. It is also applying the good cop – bad cop technique described in an earlier post.

By | 2017-09-20T13:03:30+00:00 March 12th, 2009|wording|0 Comments

About the Author:

Have you ever wondered why a client does business with you and then ignores your invoice like they had no intention of paying it in the first place or they treat you like their own personal line of credit, leaving YOU dangling, waiting months for their payment? Unfortunately this situation is all too common and can even be puzzling for the most experienced business owner. If you’ve ever had to handle outstanding accounts or you are just so over non-payers, then we can help. Real-world skills, solutions, tips & strategies to get more accounts paid on time, and, most importantly, how to maintain customer goodwill while keeping YOUR cash flow in the positive. You will find the blog posts helpful but to get real results, contact us by using any of the forms on this site, by email or by phone. I’ve been involved in the management of accounts for over 30 years, heard every excuse in the book, can spot a non-payer at 20 paces. Finance Companies in the 70s (systematic, tough), professional firms in the 80s (no systems, too gentle) and, since then, just about every other sort of business you can think of. I’ve written books on the topic, spoken all over the place about it and the blog in this website is my way of “giving back”. I hope you find it helpful.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.