Complaints, who needs them?

Well, err, actually we all do! Lessons to be learned and all that…

So here’s my story: We had a complaint a week or so ago from one of our clients. Something we don’t like to hear but, nonetheless, something that goes with the territory if you are a service provider like we are.

Client: Your bills aren’t accurate, we’ve found several mistakes in them and we’re not happy, it’s not a service we’re used to and, as a result, we’ve lost the opportunity of securing the job.

GFP: Oh dear, we’re very sorry to hear that, we need to investigate this and get back to you just as soon as we can

[Time passes, much head scratching and searching…]

GFP: We’ve looked into things and spent a bit of time checking and re-checking what we’ve done and cannot see anything wrong. Can you be more specific please?

Client: Well, its not so much that the work was inaccurate, it’s more that you were late getting the bills to us.

GFP: Oh sorry, we thought you said we’d made errors in our quantities..?

Client: Yes we did originally, but the issue is we didn’t win the job and you actually got the bills to us late and that’s what made us lose the job.

GFP: Oh well that’s not satisfactory and I wasn’t aware of that aspect. Let me look into it and see why we were late.

Client: Please.

[Some time later…]

GFP: Ok, I’ve looked into this and, well, err, actually, umm, we weren’t late. From the time you instructed us to proceed (remember you didn’t instruct us for some 2 days after our quote) we actually got the bills back to you in the prescribed period, as promised. So actually we did what we said we would do, and we did it in the time we said we would… Have a look at our emails dated X, X and X … etc.

Client: No, actually I know all of that, I just want a reduction in your fee.

GFP: Well let me see how can I best answer that for you…!

To be continued…?!

2 Responses to “Complaints, who needs them?”

  1. 1 Paul Goring September 28, 2010 at 8:21 am


    It brought a smile to my face and reminded me when I was head of acoustics at National House Building Council. A person wrote in to our CEO and the consumer committee complaining about the service we gave him. The consumer committee wrote to our CEO who passed it to our head of commercial who contacted my manager and finally a ‘phone call to me summoning me into the office to explain.

    After a 2.5 hour drive into the office I took the complainant’s details and went through our records but could not find any record of ever having carried out any work let alone speaking to him. I contacted the man and it appeared that his gripe was with another company but thought that as we were THE NHBC he would complain to us about our competitor’s costs!

    Whilst with hindsight this is amusing, this episode wasted our time and resources investigating the complaint. Having said that I believe that we should investigate each and every complaint as that is one of the best ways of retaining our clients.

    • 2 derekmynott September 28, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Hi Paul,

      I’m glad it made you smile and bring back some memories. You are quite right that you have to investigate each and every complaint as it can lead to finding out some interesting information that you may have never known. And you can use that to enhance your relationship with that client and some others too as a result. Infuriating at the time for the time it perceives to waste but invaluable feedback.

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About Me

I’m now the Managing Director of Mynott Associates Limited my own specialist measurement business. I’ve been in the industry all of my life since I left school. My first job was with Bovis Construction as a management trainee where I trained to become a quantity surveyor. I’ve worked for contractors all through my career, I am FRICS, FCIOB and MCIHT qualified and act as an RICS assessor. I’m also a keen Arsenal supporter having followed them from a young boy

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