When receiving a sensitive consumer complaint, a swift response is key. Proper complaint management directly affects consumer confidence in your brand and products.

We are increasingly witnessing food companies cutting out their consumer line, and opting for contact via the website or social media over a phone call. This makes communication with the company less direct and impersonal.

In a sensitive situation or an urgent complaint, this is not ideal. 

  • For example, what do you do when a consumer is injured while consuming one of your products?
  • How easily can consumers reach your company? 
  • How do you handle sensitive consumer complaints?

How accessible is your company?

A consumer of one of our members was injured by a foreign body. The incident happened during mealtime, outside business hours.

Moreover, the complaint was sensitive; the consumer was in an emotional and anxious state. A wrong or no response at all can quickly backfire in such a situation.

Fortunately, the company was well prepared. Thanks to our consumer line, the consumer could reach us outside business hours and we were able to communicate personally with the consumer, on behalf of the company.

Direct and empathetic contact with someone from the company is extremely important. Otherwise, you risk a breach of trust and escalation of the incident.

I want more information about the consumer line.

Every complaint is an opportunity

By the way, a sensitive complaint is no reason to panic. In fact, it is an opportunity to connect with a consumer who chooses your brand or product.

If you handle it with due care and empathy, you can repair the breach of trust. With proper complaint management, chances are that the consumer will tell a positive story about your approach and professionalism. That way, the consumer may even become an ambassador for your brand or product.

Our 3 tips

Lower the feedback threshold

When a serious event occurs, it is important that consumers can reach you quickly. As a food company, it is also useful to be open to both positive and negative consumer feedback. This is very valuable information that you can use for free to improve your products.

In the food industry, you often work with a very fragmented target group. Therefore, use various contact channels. This way, each consumer can choose the channel they feel most comfortable with:

  • A contact form on your website.
  • A phone number for consumers to call.
  • An email address for complaints.
  • Possibly a Facebook page with chat options.

Be sure to monitor each channel as well.

Open the dialogue on the phone

Provide several "gateways", but take the conversation offline as soon as possible. Did the initial contact occur via your website, email or Facebook page? Then immediately ask for a phone number to establish direct contact.

As an employee, you can better assess the seriousness of the situation on the phone. In a direct conversation, you can also hear if the consumer is angry or frustrated. For the consumer, a phone call also has its advantages. This way, the consumer can first vent and will likely respond with more understanding when "the company" is given a name and a voice.

Be accessible at all times, including weekends and evenings

Consumers do not just eat during business hours. Incidents can also occur after business hours or on weekends. Make sure someone is always on call at those times as well so that a consumer with an urgent complaint can quickly reach someone at the company.

How can we help you?

An increased accessibility of your consumer line

We provide support for your consumer line outside business hours, on weekends and holidays. For urgent complaints, consumers can call Food Security's consumer line at these moments. We make an initial assessment and then notify your responsible parties.

I want more information about the consumer line.

First Line and Sensitive Dialogue Training

Want to refresh the skills of your first-line staff? In our First Line training, employees are trained on sensitive situations and contact with the outside world.

I would like more information about the First Line training.

Want to learn more specifically about sensitive consumer complaints? During our Sensitive Dialogue with a Consumer training, your employees will learn how best to handle difficult and sensitive complaints.

I want more information about the Sensitive Dialogue training.

Ready to reinforce your company against a crisis?

We offer you an external and objective view on the facts 24/7, including an evaluation of the situation and advice on how to handle it.