6.2.2024 19:53

Processing complaints well commits customers to your company

SY specialist Sanna Lempiäinen encourages business owners to serve their customers well when they make complaints.

The Consumer Ombudsman has issued clarifying guidelines regarding how a seller ought to process complaints regarding product errors. The guidelines remind businesses about warranties and statutory non-conformity liability periods.

“Processing a complaint appropriately is absolutely in the business owners interest,” says Sanna Lempiäinen, a specialist at Suomen Yrittäjät, the Finnish SME association.

She is a lawyer whose area of responsibility includes consumer protection law and corporate responsibility.

She says that complaints are difficult situations for business owners but at the same time an inevitable part of doing business.

“A properly processed complaint keeps the customer satisfied and commits them to the business. It’s part of good customer service.”

Lempiäinen encourages business owners to draw up clear guidelines for their employees about how to deal with complaints in the company.

“You should think about the issues that precisely your company receives the most complaints about. After that, it’s worth verifying that you meet the minimum statutory requirements when processing complaints.”

Non-conformity liability period varies

The Consumer Ombudsman points out that the product warranty is not necessarily the same as the period for which a seller is responsible for a lack of conformity.

Sanna Lempiäinen confirms this.

“The non-conformity liability period is not limited to the warranty period, rather, it can be much longer,” she says.

The non-conformity liability period is based on legislation, but the length of time for each particular product is determined on a case-by-case basis.

“To a large extent, the non-conformity liability period is based on the precedent of decisions by the Consumer Disputes Board. More expensive and higher quality products are expected to have a longer service life than cheaper goods.”

Lempiäinen uses the example of a washing machine. Even if the warranty on the washing machine is two years, the seller may be liable for the functioning of the machine for several years.

Warranty matters

A business owner should remember that even if a fault was caused by the manufacturer, the customer should be provided with the opportunity to deal with the seller if they so wish.

The Consumer Ombudsman says that the seller is primarily responsible for a product fault and for compensating that fault. If necessary, the seller should interact with other parties in the supply chain.

Attention should be paid to ensuring that the customer who bought the product is offered the opportunity to interact with the seller in warranty matters. Even if the location for repairs stated in the warranty conditions differs from the sellers premises, the consumer can bring the products to the seller if it is difficult for them to bring it elsewhere.

Read the Consumer Ombudsman’s guidelines here.

How to deal with complaints properly

When a customer makes a complaint, you should tell them how the matter will be dealt with and how any errors will be compensated.

It is worth noting that generally, the consumer is free to choose whether a faulty product is repaired or replaced.

When a customer service agent interacts with consumers and customers who make a complaint, efforts should be made to ensure customers receive replies in a reasonable period.

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