Complaints handling is now a marketing tool for retailers. Intense competition within the food retail sector makes it an area for retailers to gain competitive advantage. However, the commitment to complaints handling through employee training is a largely unexplored area. Describes how an in‐depth questionnaire was used to survey UK multiple food retailers regarding the existence of complaints procedures; aspects of training such as prevalence, frequency, hours and methods; and the authority to resolve complaints in relation to employee status. Customer and staff communication, as part of the complaints handling process, was also investigated. Seven retailers took part in the survey and included a cross‐section of retailers (including one of the major multiples), based on number of branches. Reports the results, which showed that all the food retailers had some form of training. However, this varied with employee status. Generally, training was not given frequently in a formal manner, but on an ad hoc basis. Authority to resolve complaints appears to lie still with senior staff, although customer and staff communication facilities appear to exist. Argues that complaints handling can be effective only with appropriate staff training at all levels.
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