How to Write an Effective Complaint Letter to a CEO

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The adage about the squeaky wheel is often true when you want to resolve an issue where you've received poor service or a defective product. If you attempted to resolve your dissatisfaction with the store manager or customer service representatives, consider writing a letter to the company's CEO -- the chief executive officer. Taking time to write a letter that states your concerns, along with information that substantiates your claim, can work to your advantage.

1 Gather all the information

Gather all the information possible about your complaint. That can include previous correspondence with customer service representatives, payment records and evidence of a deficient product, poor service or other proof that substantiates your claim. Assemble your documents and information in chronological order to illustrate the period from when you first experienced the deficiency to the present.

2 Draft a chronology of events

Draft a chronology of events. If necessary, begin your chronology from the time you first subscribed to the service or initially purchased the product. Include pertinent information such as dates of service, product description, model and serial numbers. Refine your draft with specific information that asserts your right to a replacement product or repair service. For example, if you have experienced poor home telephone service, gather information about when you previously reported the service as well as technicians who attempted to repair your telephone service.

3 Research the company

Research the company, including the specific product or service. Access online resources for user-generated information about satisfied and dissatisfied customers. Review their complaints and the course of action they followed to resolve their issues. Obtain information about the company from business databases and clearinghouses such as the Better Business Bureau. Depending on the industry, contact government resources for information on how to lodge a complaint. For example, the Federal Trade Commission is a resource for individuals with complaints against businesses.

4 Write the body of your letter

Write the body of your letter, beginning with an introduction. Explain that you're writing to the CEO because you did not receive a satisfactory response from your previous contact with customer service or another representative of the company. Compose a pleasant introduction, free from sarcasm and anger. The best way to resolve matters is through cooperation, but sarcastic wit or letters written in a condescending manner will not receive the positive response you're seeking.

5 Insert your chronology

Insert your chronology. If necessary, pare down the details in your letter to maintain just the essential points. Your letter should also indicate you have additional information that you will gladly share in a telephone conversation or subsequent communication. Express your interest in resolving the matter as quickly as possible so as not to take up unnecessary resources. Include contact information and your availability for a telephone call or face-to-face meeting. Dispatch your letter or e-mail and retain a copy for your personal files.

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.