Experts propose complaint best practices as watchdogs slam UK service levels

16th Aug 2011

Customer service experts are proposing for common complaints and feedback management best practice processes, amid calls by regulators to ramp up customer service in the UK.  

Common processes to manage customer complaints and feedback are needed to ensure consumers get a fair deal and help retailers and service providers understand the business benefits of responding to customer feedback appropriately, urge CDC Software and customer service consultancy Mathew James Customer Care Solutions.
A year-long complaints management process study by CDC Software revealed that a high percentage of service providers still fail to recognise how business-critical the data generated during the customer complaints process is to the future success of their business, and the loyalty of its customers.
Just last week Ofgem called on gas and electricity providers to address poor complaint handling, and in the last few week the Financial Services Authority (FSA) won compensation for all customers mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).
“There will always be complaints,” explained Mathew James, director of Mathew James Customer Care Solutions. “What matters is how a complaint is handled, the speed to resolution and retrospectively how the information gathered from the complaint process is used to put right weaknesses in the business, improve customer communications, reduce the volume of future complaints and equally to develop new revenue generating products and services.”
“All feedback provides vital customer intelligence. All intelligence should be analysed and used to continually improve the business, how it communicates with its publics and the experience it provides to its customers.  Complaints only become a business issue if the business fails to acknowledge and respond,” explained Mark Chambers, head of solutions consultants at CDC Software UK & Ireland. 
Proposed best practice
  • Culture. Look at customer complaints as highly targeted business intelligence and use root cause analysis to improve the business, increase brand value, reduce complaint volume and to cross-sell products and services.
  • KPIs. Understand that badly-set KPIs hamper the quality of complaint resolution. Good complaints management is about the quality and effective resolution of each complaint, not, for example, the number of calls handled.
  • Technology. The right technology will revolutionise customer service. An intuitive, easy-to-use and informative customer management platform will “listen” to the customer and “tell” the business what it is doing right and where it is going wrong!
  • People. Customer service personnel are the face of the business. They form customer opinions.  It is vital to have the right people in place and they must be trained and empowered.
  • Trends. Monitor trends to ensure the root cause of repetitive complaints is established and processes put in place, or new services developed, to avoid unnecessary customer complaints and ensure future customer satisfaction.
  • Social media. Businesses need to understand the speed and breadth of information flow and be pro-active.  Monitor activity, anticipate issues and pro-actively communicate using the preferred channel of each customer group. 

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