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4 tips for improving communication in the complaints process

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Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is one of the most important skills someone can have. In order for the complaints process to work as effectively as possible, it is important that both the complainant and the complaint handler are communicating clearly. But although it is an important skill, it isn’t an easy one. In this blog, we look at 4 simple tips that can help improve communication.

Communication is an essential part of the complaints process. If you are making a complaint, it is important that people can understand what your complaint is about. If you are handling a complaint, it is important that people can understand the decision you have made.

However, miscommunication is an issue that comes up a lot in complaint handling. Sometimes it is the core issue of a complaint e.g. the complainant believes they were given incorrect information. In other cases, it concerns how the complaint itself was handled e.g. the complainant believes that the complaint handler didn’t understand what their complaint was about. In these types of situations, the issue arises because there is a lack of clear and effective communication.

Communicating effectively is a skill and one that we need to work on all the time. Here at SCOAF, communication is something that we are always trying to improve – whether it is our website content or how we write our decision letters. Our aim is to ensure that the message we send is the message received.

This is the aim that everyone who wants to communicate clearly and effectively should be working towards. Often, that can seem like an impossible task. After all, what we say and write is open to interpretation and can be taken out of context. But it can be achieved.

The following 4 tips are a good place to start if you want to improve the way you communicate:

Less is usually more

 Having a large vocabulary is great. Being able to draw upon that can make communication more engaging and compelling. But let’s be honest, if people can’t understand what you are saying then what is the point in saying it?

There is a time and place for every style of communication, but less is usually more. By only saying what you need to say and using simpler words, there is a greater chance your message will be understood.

Avoid jargon and abbreviations

 In almost every industry there are specialist terms and abbreviations used that doesn’t make sense to people who don’t work in that field. When communicating, it is important to remember who you are communicating with. Does the person work in the same field? If not, it is unlikely they will understand the jargon and abbreviations that you use.

If you have to use jargon or abbreviations when communicating, it’s important to explain what the terms mean in full. If you don’t, you can’t expect someone else to understand what you are trying to say.

Don’t just repeat what you have said before

 We often have messages that need to be repeated. For example, if you are making a complaint, it is possible that you will have to write or say what you want to complain about on multiple occasions throughout the entire process. Or perhaps someone is seeking clarification about something you have written in a decision letter.

However, it doesn’t always work to just repeat or copy and paste, what you have said before. Why? Because you are working on the assumption that what you said the first time clearly communicated what you wanted to say. If you think your complaint was misunderstood in the first place, or someone doesn’t understand a decision you have written, then there is a good chance it wasn’t clear enough. Simply repeating it will only lead to more confusion and frustration.

Always try and start afresh. Sit down and think about a different, and simpler, way of communicating your message.

Don’t make assumptions

Miscommunication often arises because of a failure to check that you have understood someone else’s message. Don’t make assumptions. If you aren’t sure, just ask!

Of course, communication is a broad topic and the way we communicate depends on a lot of different factors. But these 4 tips are a great place to start if you want to improve the chances of having your message understood!