ISO 10018 on Complaints Handling

A planned ISO standard on complaints handling is expected to help safeguard consumers. The committee draft, ISO/CD 10018, Complaints Handling, sets out an effective complaints handling process that would provide a fair result in the marketplace, as well as, give industry the capacity to recognize and address systematic consumer problems. The standard provides the essential elements for handling complaints: from initial receipt to the final assessment of complainant satisfaction, including those related to electronic commerce.

According to Bill Dee, convenor of the working group, complaints handling is a critical business issue and one that can benefit both consumers and business. “It is now an accepted fact that companies operating in a competitive environment can maintain customer loyalty by handling customer complaints effectively. Customer complaints can also form the basis for product and service improvement. In short, complaints are feedback to a company on how its goods and services are performing where it counts most, i.e., the marketplace.”

“Complaints handling” refers to an avenue of appeal for business-to-consumer transactions to provide optimal levels of consumer protection in the global marketplace. This process is intended to supplement or complement dispute resolution mechanisms already in place and, where none exist, to provide a process for customers to obtain redress when internal complaints handling does not provide resolution.

The development of ISO 10018 is designed to encourage harmonization of the divergent complaints handling processes practiced in different countries and by different businesses. A common and internationally accepted International Standard will provide a uniform set of guidelines to ensure consist treatment of complaints, irrespective of where the transaction takes place.

“If consumers deal with organizations who have implemented the new standard, they should be able to expect an organization that will take their complaints seriously, but not only that, they will be dealing with organizations that are willing to learn from their complaints to continuously improve their products and service delivery,” said Bill Dee.  “We have all been victims of organizations that have no sense of customer service or continuous improvement in the way they deal with customers, and the new standard will provide guidance on how this situation can be improved.”

The draft ISO 10018 addresses the following aspects of complaints handling:

  • Helping to enhance customer satisfaction by creating a customer-focused environment which invites complaints, and commits to resolving complaints, while simultaneously enhancing the organization’s ability to improve its product or services and customer service;
  • Management involvement and commitment through adequate acquisition and deployment of resources, including personnel training;
  • Recognizing and addressing needs and expectations of complainants;
  • Providing complainants with an open, effective, and easy-to-use complaints process, which is fair to all parties;
  • Analyzing and evaluating complaints in order to improve the product or service and customer service quality;
  • Auditing and reviewing the effectiveness of the complaints handling process.

For more information regarding the standard, you can contact Bill Dee at <>.