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To improve customer service and increase loyalty, start with managing complaints

Genifer Graff,
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We all just went through an incredible but difficult year. Businesses were overwhelmed with customers trying to change or cancel flights, orders, appointments, and more. Service operations couldn’t keep up, leading to a lot of complaints. Unfortunately, in many cases, businesses could not resolve their customers’ complaints quickly enough, resulting in a seemingly endless cycle of complaints that frustrated everyone – business leaders, service agents, and customers. It was obvious that businesses could really benefit from making it easy to complain and from having an effective end-to-end complaints process.

Making it easier for your customers to complain? Yes!

Don’t fear complaints. Instead, make the complaint process frictionless for everyone, and see complaints as an opportunity to deliver outstanding service and create customers for life.

Building a frictionless process for complaints

So how can you have a successful complaint process? By looking at the complaint process from end to end. You must be able to effectively manage the complaint from beginning to resolution – from your complaint channel to your back-office complaints team to, ultimately, a fast resolution.

For a fast and efficient complaint process, focus on getting these 10 key capabilities right:

  1. Consistency is key

    To effectively manage your complaint process, consistency is key. No matter where the complaint begins, it will undergo the same process. In some cases, a complaint may need to be escalated or will require additional research. An effective complaints process should be able to handle ad hoc tasks as part of the straight-through process.

    Your complaint process should be able to handle both simple and complex processes. The process should also provide guidance to users to ensure best practices are followed and the complaint is resolved.

  2. Allow anyone to complain

    Your complaint solution should allow anyone to complain – not just your customers. For regulated industries (insurance, finance, etc.) this practice is required, but it is in the best interest of any business. While you may prioritize your customers’ complaints, you should still have a complaint process for everyone. Why? A complaint is a way of understanding how your organization is providing service and how your organization is perceived in the marketplace.

    For example, if you receive a lot of complaints about a TV spot or social media post, processing these complaints quickly will allow the spot or post to be pulled without a significant loss of reputation. Only allowing customers to complain will not provide this insight.

  3. Provide faster time to resolution

    The faster your organization resolves the complaint, the less likely you are to lose the customer or suffer damaging publicity. In regulated industries, many jurisdictions have a response time requirement.

    A comprehensive complaint process provides automated escalations to get complaints processed within a jurisdiction’s required time frame. This escalation is still part of the consistent end-to-end complaint processing. The only change is jurisdictional-based rules increase the urgency of the complaint during processing.

  4. Check for complaint duplicates

    It seems that once someone starts formally complaining, they want answers – fast. A slow response may result in a customer complaining again on the same channel or by moving to another channel, increasing the volume of complaints.

    How to solve this? As discussed earlier, a faster complaint resolution process will reduce the number of complaints. Another important capability is to check for duplicate complaints. A duplicate complaint check compares input values and alerts the complaint processing team if it finds the same complaint in duplicate on the same channel or on other channels.

  1. Allow complaints in any channel

    Making complaining easy gives your organization a chance to shine. A customer should be able to start a complaint in any channel – your website, text message, social media, or a phone conversation with your call center. By engaging and responding to people who are complaining in their channel of choice, you will be able to truly demonstrate outstanding customer service.

    Regardless of where the complaint begins, it should be easily transferred to your back-office complaint team for processing. Having your marketing or social media specialists process complaints is not an effective use of their time and causes inconsistent service. Regardless of the channel, the complaint must undergo a consistent process, and the hand-off from intake to your back-office team must be seamless.

  2. Email complaints

    As a complaint channel, emails are a special case. They are free-form and can contain multiple complaints. While they are typically triaged by a complaints team, it doesn’t have to be this way. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) allows for technology to “read” the complaint email, create the work case(s) from the complaint email, and route it to the correct person for processing. Using automation practically eliminates the delay in waiting for an operator to manually create the case.

    Finally, you need a process that can handle high priority or special complaints, such as instances when someone emails a complaint to the CEO or another executive. Can your existing solution give priority to emails sent to your company’s highest-ranking personnel? If not, it is time to rethink your process.

  3. Provide timely notifications

    Anyone who complains should be notified immediately once the complaint is received and receive periodic updates on their channel of choice. Your complaints system should also send status updates to a CEO’s executive assistant or other administrators if they initiate an email case on behalf of the executive. By sending notifications and providing timely updates, you reduce the chance of the customer submitting duplicate complaints.

  4. Reopen a complaint

    Think about this. You are tasked with processing a complaint. The customer says the issue is resolved, so you close the complaint. However, next month, it turns out the issue was NOT resolved. Now you need to re-open the complaint to resume processing.

    With many solutions, reopening a closed complaint is not possible. You will have to create a new complaint and copy the information from the old complaint to the new one. This takes time and slows the complaint process.

    But that is not how it should be. A complaint should be able to be re-opened if it is determined that the complaint is not resolved. By reopening the complaint, the team can resume working as if the complaint had never been closed.

  5. Route to the right person to solve the complaint

    One of the most common causes of delay is a complaint being routed to the wrong person or team. You need a system that can determine the best person or team to work on the complaint. You also need to understand the skill level of your team and the types of complaints each person can manage.

    Routing cases to the right person for processing can reduce processing delays and helps ensure the customer is satisfied.

  6. Capture actions in an audit trail

    Some highly regulated industries must have an auditable complaints process, but every organization can benefit from auditing. Auditing allows you to understand the actions taken at every step in the process and helps IT developers find opportunities for improvement.

    In addition, audit reports provide detailed information that enable regulated industries to make available the necessary proof that complaints were processed on time. With an effective process, organizations can reduce the chance of being fined for non-compliance.

A frictionless complaints process builds loyalty and value
Retaining existing customers and fostering customer loyalty builds customer lifetime value. The acquisition of a new customer costs anywhere from 10% to 60% more than the cost of keeping your existing customer. Make it easy for anyone to complain and resolve their issues quickly. Having a great, easy to use, frictionless complaints solution can help reduce costs, retain customers, build value, and build your business’s reputation for providing outstanding customer service.

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Informazioni sull'autore

As a Senior Solutions Consultant for Pega, Genifer Graff helps organizations move forward on digital transformation journeys and believes that DevOps tools should be an integral part of any application development.

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