What Is an Email Complaint? (With Tips and Template)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An email complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction towards some products or services. Writing and receiving customer complaints via email are common in certain industries and also occur within workplaces. Learning the appropriate way to write and respond to customer complaints can be helpful to your career, regardless of industry and position. In this article, we discuss what email complaints are and who uses them and provide a template complaint email for reference.

What is an email complaint?

An email complaint is an electronic written communication used to express negative feelings about certain products and services. Customers usually write their complaints after purchasing a product or using a service and experiencing defects or difficulties. Complaints written within workplaces are usually concise and formal, whereas complaints written by consumers are often more casual and unpredictable in tone and structure.

Key points to include in complaints via email

There are several elements necessary when sending your complaints by email:

Recipient

Start your complaint by identifying the recipient of the email. It can be a specific person or a department of a company. If you're writing to a specific person, it's usually the person who is responsible for the product or service you purchased or if you're writing to a department of a company, it's usually the customer relations department. If you have a specific problem, like discrimination or technical faults, you may write to other departments like human resources or technical support.

Issues

You can then describe the issue with your purchase. Include key information, such as the date and venue of the purchase, receipt or order number, model number of the product and name of the staff that assisted you during the purchase. Then, describe in detail the problem you're facing. When complaining about a product, you can describe the condition of your product or any malfunction.

If there's any visible damage to the product, you may also want to attach photos of its unused condition and the broken part. When complaining about a service, you can start by stating the name and position of the person who provided you with the service. Describe your interaction and explain your issue. It might be because of the attitude of the service provider, their failure to solve your issue or they provided incorrect advice.

Consequences

Explain what the aforementioned issue causes. For example, it can be a faulty product or an accident caused by unprofessional staff. Elaborate on how this problem affected you, such as any financial, physical or emotional consequence caused by the problem. For instance, if the company made a wrong delivery, you may have spent extra money and time to receive your product, so you can list out the amount of extra money you spent due to the wrong delivery.

Solutions

A complaint can include more than just complaining about problems. You can also include some possible solutions to the problems that the recipient can consider implementing. Common resolutions are reimbursement, either in cash or in-store credit, or a formal apology from the company. It's important to note that a company may not give what you ask for because each company often has specific guidelines for dealing with complaints.

Your contact information

At the end of your complaint, you can include your contact information if you're interested in the recipient directly contacting you. The recipient may want to call you for additional information about the incident or to make arrangements for any follow-up actions. A phone number is usually adequate, but if you want something to be delivered, you can also include an address.

Supporting evidence

If you have any supporting evidence, consider attaching them to your email. It can be a receipt of the product you bought, a photo of a faulty product or a video showing your interaction with a staff member. If you paid extra money because of an issue, you can include a receipt of your additional expenses. If you got hurt, you can also include a photo of your wound or a doctor's certificate. Ensure to refer to any supporting documents and information you provide in the content of the complaint.

Key points to include when responding to customer complaints by email

You may sometimes be the recipient of these complaints. It's important to respond to customer complaints promptly and professionally to maintain good customer or professional relationships. Here are a few things to include when responding to a complaint sent via email:

Acknowledgement of receipt

You can start your response by thanking the sender for writing their email and sharing their feedback. It's important to show the sender that you're interested in and value their opinions. Let them know you're interested in helping them resolve their issue.

Related: How to Create Acknowledgement of Receipt Emails (With Examples)

An apology

Read the complaints from your customers thoroughly before writing your response. Ensure you understand the sender's concerns. When you understand the issue the sender has, you can apologise on behalf of the company or a staff member. You want to write your apology in a sincere tone that's specific to your customer's problem. If you're using an email template to respond, ensure to personalise the content when addressing the sender's concerns.

Related: How to Write an Apology Email to Customers (With Examples)

A detailed plan to resolve the issue

You can first check if similar complaints exist and refer to how the responsible professional resolved them. It's beneficial to maintain a consistent approach when handling complaints to avoid any bias issues. This can help you comply with your employer's policies and avoid future disputes. Although a sender may have included some desired solutions to their problem in their complaint email, you can seek a compromise between the interest of the sender and your employer. List out your plan in detail to solve their problem, with information such as dates, time and responsible parties.

Contact information

End your response with your contact information. It can be a direct line to reach you or a general company email that exists for handling complaints. Including a direct communication channel can make your customers feel like a specific person is taking care of their problem. You can file the email and any relevant information together to prepare for any follow-up calls or emails from the sender.

Email etiquette related to complaints

Whether you're writing complaints or responding to one, it's important to remember that complaints by email are formal written communications. Writing and responding to complaints calmly and professionally can help you elicit the desired response from the other party. Using emotionally neutral words and objectively describing your issue can help the recipient understand your problem better, so they can solve your problems more effectively.

When responding to complaints by email, it's important to remain friendly and professional because you're representing your employer. Writing in simple and direct words in a sincere tone can show that you value the sender's opinion and are determined to solve their issue.

Related: Email Etiquette: The Professional Business Email Format

Careers related to customer complaints

Certain positions may resolve complaints more often than the others, including:

  • Customer relations: The customer relations department is the direct link between customers and a company, so it's very common for customers to address their complaints to a customer relations department. If you're a customer relations professional, it's likely part of your duties to respond to any complaints by email.

  • Manager positions: For smaller-scale companies, they may not have a specific customer relations officer to handle customer complaints and the responsibility falls on managerial level staff. Managers may also respond to complaints specific to their departments, like human resources, legal or technology.

  • Executive assistants: When you work for someone as an assistant, you may help them draft and send complaints on their behalf.

Email complaint template

While customer complaints come in many forms, there are certain elements that are commonly included. Here's a template for a general complaint email:

Dear [recipient of your complaint],

I'm writing to complain about [the product or service you're dissatisfied with]. I visited [the company that provided the product or service] on [the date of purchase of product or service] and am dissatisfied with [the issue you're facing]. It's unacceptable that your company would offer [the product or service] with [the issue you're facing]. It caused [include details of any consequences that were caused by the issue].

I would appreciate it if you can fix the problem or offer [your desired resolution to the problem]. Please find attached [any supporting evidence, such as receipts, photos or communications] for your reference. Please contact me by responding to this email if you need additional information. I look forward to your reply.

Regards,

[your name]

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