Business Complaint Letter Format: Tips for Restaurant and Store Complaints

Everyone has had a bad customer service experience at a restaurant or store. Whether the problem lay with a product, the attitude of the staff, or a company policy, you should feel comfortable voicing your concerns. If you’re looking for a business complaint letter format, consider these tips when organizing your feedback.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #1
Wait at least a day.
If you’re really rattled about a negative experience, take some time to cool off. You’re more likely to compose an effective letter after you’ve taken time to collect your thoughts. This can ensure that you present the issue in a timely but more level-headed manner.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #2
Find the right method of contact.
If the restaurant or store has a web presence, visit the site and look for a “contact us” feature. Many chain establishments have centralized feedback processes that work via online form or email. However, complaint letters sent by postal mail often have the greatest impact, so find a mailing address if you can. Something about receiving a hard copy complaint reinforces the seriousness of the issue. If you cannot find the name of a manager or other accountable party, direct your letter to “Manager/Owner,” and it should get routed to the right person.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #3
Identify your experience.
Make sure the restaurant or store is able to understand exactly when you visited. Include location, date, time, products/services involved, and names/descriptions of any staff members with whom you interacted. This ensures that the business can pin down who is responsible or accountable for the problem.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #4
Discuss the details of what happened.
It’s best to cover what transpired in chronological order so that your complaint can be easily followed by the reader. Without going overboard, talk about the exact problems. If the food was of poor quality, describe how: was it cold? undercooked? sloppily presented? If the store was in disarray, give examples: were there boxes all over the floor? was the bathroom unclean? If the service was slow, specify the amount of time: how many minutes did you wait to be helped? Usually, the more details you can provide, the more vivid a picture you paint for the reader.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #5
Remind the business of their mission.
Often, restaurants and stores will post mission statements, values, or an overall philosophy of service on their website or on their very walls. Take this opportunity to remind the management that, in your opinion, they are failing to meet the standards they have prescribed for themselves.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #6
Set an expectation.
If you want to be contacted by phone, say so. If you want to be emailed, say so. If you want a letter in return, say so. You’re in control of the complaint process, so (within reason) let management of the restaurant or store know what you expect in terms of a reply. Give a specific date by which you want to be contacted. This lets the business you know that you’re serious about holding them accountable. Also, if there are refunds or other monetary issues involved, elucidate your expectations about those. Be firm yet tactful.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #7
Talk about your intentions.
Do you plan to visit that store again to give them another chance? Are you going to tell friends and colleagues about your negative experience? Are you considering a complaint with the BBB? Whatever the case, let the management of the restaurant or store know what you intend to do. If your next step depends on their reply to your letter, say so. This is a polite way to lodge what might otherwise be called a threat.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #8
Thank them.
Even if you had an awful experience, the best thing to do is thank them for hearing your complaint. Also, if you felt there were employees who honestly did their best but could not resolve the issue (or who were otherwise not at fault), recognize those people so that they are spared some of the brunt of any disciplinary action.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #9
Ask someone else to look over your letter.
In addition to basic proofreading, make sure that your points are being conveyed clearly. Find a neutral person who was not involved and get their feedback on your complaint letter.

Business Complaint Letter Format: Tip #10
Include any additional materials.
If you need to include a receipt, a photo, or any other documents, remember to do so. After you double-check the accuracy and tone of the letter, it’s time to let your complaint be heard!

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