Complaint management or the effective handling of customer complaints within an organization – is always a topic of strong interest and debate. If you search online for "customer complaints," you will inevitably come across numerous stories from every industry, including banks, airlines, telecom providers, and fast food companies.
Addressing the specific issues of individual customers to retain their business and protect revenue is the essence of effective complaint management. However, organizations should also have a robust complaint management policy and procedures in place, beyond just avoiding customer dissatisfaction and non-compliance with industry regulators. Additional reasons include:
- Continual improvement: Complaining customers will offer valuable information about your products, services, processes, and/or people through their feedback. This information provides you with an opportunity to retain their business, and also allows you to rectify the problem, preventing negative impacts on other customers. Customers who are dissatisfied but choose not to complain will likely be lost to your company for good, and unfortunately, you will not have the opportunity to understand the reason why. Effective complaint management ensures that the right individuals within the business receive this customer feedback and can implement the necessary changes to contribute to overall organizational improvements.
- Word-of-mouth: Managing complaints correctly is essential for minimizing the risk of negative word-of-mouth. This can be significantly and quickly amplified, especially through social media, if not handled appropriately by your organization. A single, unhappy customer has the potential to overshadow the positive sentiments of multiple brand promoters.
- Productivity: Without a way to streamline the process of collecting, understanding, analyzing and actioning your response to them, complaints can take up a disproportionate amount of your resources to resolve, including time, effort and costs. These resources could likely be spent in much better ways across your business.
Complaint Management PolicyWhen developing a complaint management policy, begin by defining the desired end result and then work your way back. In most cases, the ultimate goal is to ensure that the customer feels satisfied, believing that they have been heard, their time has been respected, they have been treated fairly, and that their feedback has contributed to subsequent improvements.
It is also crucial to reassure the complainant, as early as possible, that you value their feedback and are dedicated to resolving their issues fairly, promptly, and efficiently.
Your complaint management policy should:
- Clearly outline the procedure for customers to formally submit complaints.
- Identify the steps you will take to address and resolve these complaints.
- Specify the potential solutions you may offer complainants.
- Describe how you will inform customers about your commitment to continuous improvement.
Complaint Management Procedure
Once you have developed a policy document, you can then create a procedure for handling any incoming complaints. A comprehensive procedure ensures that all complaints are consistently handled in the same manner every time.
A typical complaint management procedure will include the following steps:
- Acknowledge the complaint: Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention, offer an apology, and take responsibility. It's essential never to attempt to shift the blame, especially onto the customer.
- Understand the complaint: Gather all relevant facts and context by asking the necessary questions to all involved. Customer feedback management systems like CentraCX can help expedite this process.
- Record details of the complaint: Document the complaint in your central system. Maintaining records of all complaints in a single system facilitates more efficient identification of trends and recurring issues.
- Determine the options for fixing the problem: Discuss what outcome the customer is seeking. It could be a repair, a replacement, a refund or an apology. They may even just want confirmation that your products or services will be improved so others aren't impacted. Once their expectation has been conveyed, you must decide if the request is reasonable.
- Act quickly: Strive to resolve the complaint as quickly as possible. Prolonged resolution times increase the likelihood of negative impacts and will result in higher costs for your organization.
- Keep your promises: Fulfill your commitments and inform the customer promptly if there are any delays in resolving their request.
- Follow up: After the complaint has been resolved, reach out to the customer to ensure that they were satisfied with how their issue was handled. Additionally, inform them of the measures in place to prevent the recurrence of the same problem in the future.
CentraCXCentraCX is a revolutionary real-time Voice of the Customer (VoC) feedback management solution built specifically for contact centers. It supports the complaints workflow by making it easier for customers to submit feedback of all kinds. Additionally, it ensures that the correct people, who have the authority to make necessary decisions and changes, receive the customer feedback.
CentraCX also promotes greater collaboration and agent involvement on complaint discussions. It ensures that everybody involved has the ability to contribute their individual insights and add rich context to the feedback to help more easily surface solutions that can solve both minor and major issues in a more comprehensive manner. Ensuring better understanding of any complaints helps resolve them more efficiently and effectively.