Martin Ellingham, business leader, Aptean Respond, explains why bringing complaints out of the back office and to the forefront is crucial in instilling a CX-centric culture
Often regarded as a distinctly back office function, for many, handling complaints was seen as a time-consuming business process. Almost a necessary evil of doing business, the ultimate goal was to simply resolve customer issues, drawing a line under the complaint and moving on. How things have changed, with more and more businesses recognising the operational improvements and boost to overall business performance that robust complaint management can bring.
Additionally, faced with customers who are less loyal than ever before, sustainable, long-term relationships need to be worked on, with more emphasis placed on building and nurturing not only relationships, but using customer feedback and experiences to revolutionise the entire customer experience for the good of the business. As such, complaints management is moving very much to the front line, with complaint management excellence becoming a key differentiator in increasingly competitive marketplaces.
Digitisation has empowered customers, giving them multiple channels through which to not only register their complaints but to air their grievances, as well as the opportunity to switch suppliers and providers at the click of a mouse. This increased digitisation has on one hand served to undoubtedly make life more challenging for complaint management, but at the same time, it also broadens the opportunities for businesses to turn a complaint into an opportunity. Digitisation provides the ways and means to track and qualify customer interactions and behaviours, feeding this information back into the business to inform change, making operational and strategic decisions based on the vital information that can be gleaned from even the most straightforward of complaints.
This is why and how more businesses are taking full advantage of customer complaints. Rather than hiding complaints in the back office, we’re slowly seeing a shift in the whole focus of complaint handling and management. The long-standing mind-set of ‘resolve and close’ is changing to bring on board the potential that exists to turn complaints into opportunities, going from a complaint cost centre to a real driver of profitability, underpinning process improvements right across the business.
That’s not to say that a change in mind-set is enough to bring complaints to the fore. Staff need to be given the right tools to fully exploit the potential opportunities that robust complaint handling can provide. The overarching priority still must be for complaints to be resolved as efficiently and effectively as possible, and the only way to do this is to ensure staff have access to a comprehensive, up-to-date data picture of the customer in question. By providing staff with the right tools and knowledge, you can empower them to resolve complaints quickly, improving customer satisfaction in the process.
But, it’s what happens from here on in that can be of real benefit to the business. A feedback loop is essential if the business is to derive real value from any trends that can be identified, in order to address problems and drive organisational learning. Using the very data that the entire complaints management process generates to inform real organisational and process change, businesses can achieve not only time and cost efficiency savings, but can also optimise the customer experience.
Customer demand and technological developments are just two factors helping complaint management to move out of the shadows, taking its rightful place at the heart of the business. The value to be derived from the entire complaint handling process is not to be underestimated, with the most forward-thinking businesses out there already making good use of the insight and in-depth information that complaints provide to better inform their entire operation.
For more information on how Aptean Respond can help your business derive more value from its complaint management, email [email protected]