Every manager I have ever asked this question has responded affirmatively. “Yes, of course customer feedback is valuable to our business.” When I ask why, the answers echo at least some part of the following: We need it to refine our business processes, enhance our products, to keep excelling for our customers, to drive customer trust and loyalty, and to attract more customers. So true.
Yet in those same companies it is often (not always) found that the way customer complaints are handled falls short in at least one way.
- The people whose job it is to attend to complaints are either not well trained or well managed or well suited for the job (or all of the above).
- The people are great but the processes and systems to support their critical work in resolving complaints as speedily and fairly as possible are weak.
- Complaints Managers and CX Executives could do more to adequately or effectively track, monitor and report on complaints. For example, some could demand more meaningful statistics from their complaints tracking systems; others don’t put a suitable system in place.
- Executives tend to be more interested in customer satisfaction survey results than complaints management information.
I was surprised (OK, maybe “shocked” expresses it more clearly) when I discovered an organisation that received thousands of complaints a month, was still using Excel to track them. In fact, they weren’t entirely sure how many complaints they received, but at least over a thousand were noted on Excel each month. They also didn’t know how long it took on average to resolve complaints nor which service consultants were more effective than others in restoring customer trust through smart complaint handling. They had a vague idea what the thousand odd complaints were about but insufficient information to do much about it. For example they didn’t know which products or product features attracted more complaints than others, or which customer segments complained more than others, or what the root causes of all these complaints were. Work done to resolve one complaint by one consultant ended up being done again (in their own way) by another consultant for the next similar complaint.
Bottomline: They were not spending on a system and yet were inadvertently wasting more money due to poor processes, inactionable management information, frustrated customers and ultimately despondent service consultants and team leaders. Thus they were trapped in a vicious downward spiral which ultimately lead to losing more customers. At least the loss of business stirred the Executive conversation in the right direction. And fortunately, together with some great leaders at that firm, we were able to change all that.
I’m not suggesting that just implementing a complaints tracking system is the silver bullet to solving all four types of short-comings listed above. But I am saying that unless your customers are hardly ever unhappy with something you did or didn’t do, that such a system is a critical cornerstone to resolving the four problem areas listed. It doesn’t have to be some expensive whizbangpop system.
“Some companies have higher costs due to poor processes, inactionable management information, frustrated customers and despondent service consultants than what it would cost to solve these problems.”
On the contrary, a simple but reliable and easy-to-use online tool is ideal. The Brilliance Complaints Reporting Tool is one such example, used by over 100 companies who can attest to its effectiveness. Plus, it isn’t expensive. You don’t need to buy a system – you just subscribe each year to as many or as few licences as you need based on your number of service consultants. You can end your subscription whenever you want or arrange to have special features added if you wish. What’s more, the Brilliance Complaints Reporting Tool is designed to meet regulatory reporting requirements which is a huge help to those in the financial services industry who have to submit Conduct of Business Returns to the Financial Services Conduct Authority every quarter.
If you would prefer to have a unique system that sits on your own in-house server and integrates with other internal systems or databases, this is also a good idea. We’ve helped clients in precisely this situation to transform what they had into a Complaints Management System or Customer Feedback System exactly according to their specifications.
Even with a great system in place, you might find yourself realising that it’s time to give more serious attention to one of the other items on the list of typical short-comings related to customer complaints. Whatever your business situation, it is always worth making sure that the value of customer feedback is truly appreciated in your organisation. Let us prove to you that the payoff is undeniable.