How well do you manage customer complaints? This is a question that every business ought to be asking itself, regardless of its size or industry. Today, the adage that the customer is always right has never been more true. With more options available to them than ever before, customers are very much in control of how successful – or otherwise – a business is. A few clicks of a mouse can reveal a plethora of alternative businesses and solutions to the customer, which means that businesses have to try harder than ever to deliver outstanding customer experience.
Managing customer complaints properly can significantly increase a business’s administration costs, but failure to do so could lead to loss of customers as well as reputational damage. This is evident in the results of a recently released study revealing the South African bank with the most satisfied clients – and the bank with the most miserable clients.
As I’m not a customer of the bank that topped the poll (Capitec), I can’t comment on its complaints management process, but as a customer of the bank that scored lowest on the customer happiness index (Standard Bank), I can say from experience that their complaints management process is somewhat lacking. This is supported by the statistics, with 22.5% of surveyed clients reporting an issue and a resolution rate of 51.9%. However, it must be said that in general, resolution rates were around the 50%-55% mark, with only one bank (African Bank) resolving 60% of issues.
It must also be pointed out that while the South African Customer Satisfaction Index produced by Consulta benchmarks customer satisfaction – it doesn’t tell businesses how to improve their customer experience (CX).
Susan Van Zyl, Head Sales and Marketing of JMR Software, says: “The ability to effectively and efficiently manage and resolve customer complaints is a key aspect of good CX. However, complaints management is about more than just CX, it also assists the business to maintain quality control, effectively manage compliance and prevent potential lawsuits.”
Unhappy customers frequently turn to social media to air their grievances about the products or service that they received, damaging the business’s brand image and creating a snowball effect of similar complaints from other customers. The best way to avoid this is to have a complaints management process that will streamline complaints operations and help call centre agents deal speedily and effectively with dissatisfied clients.
Not only does a complaints management system rescue the relationship with the customer, it empowers the business to identify weaknesses in its processes where repeated complaints are recorded about a specific area of operation. “Improvements can then be made to systems and processes that will have the additional benefit of reducing the number of complaints going forward, thus turning a negative into a positive,” explains Van Zyl.
She goes on to outline some key factors that any complaint management system has to incorporate:
- Streamline complaints management so that customers feel heard and are able to communicate with the business about their concerns without being passed from pillar to post by automatically routing complaints to the correct person or department.
- Have high visibility into the process so that customers are aware that their issues are being dealt with and the progress thereof, while being able to track customer feedback in real-time.
- The business must be able to receive and handle complaints through multiple channels including its Web site, social media, call centre, e-mail and even in person.
All of this can be managed through the deployment of Web-based technology that will help businesses to deal quickly and effectively with dissatisfied clients, says Van Zyl. “Automation helps to track and resolve issues, workflows can be deployed to assign complaints and ensure escalation where needed, and to ensure that complaints are being addressed in a timely manner, with customers being updated on the progress of their complaints throughout.”
She says: “It must be remembered that the primary aims of complaints management are twofold: to assist the customer as well as to ultimately benefit the business by identifying areas for improvement.
“Implementing the correct complaints management system has a plethora of benefits for the company. The key is choosing the correct solution for your business. There are some key questions you should be asking when making your choice. Is the solution robust, flexible and easy to configure? Is it 100% Web-based, highly scalable and can it be rapidly deployed? Ideally, you should be looking for a multi-channel system where you can receive and handle complaints through multiple channels, including your Web site, social media, walk-in clients and call centres,” she explains. “All these attributes will assist to ultimately reduce your administration costs and ensure a solution that is scalable and will allow for growth that is in line with your business requirements.”
Finally, Van Zyl highlights five key things to look out for at when choosing a complaint management solution.
- Integrated software solution: A single interface covering the entire complaint management life cycle, from submission of complaint and escalation to resolution and analysis. This tool will enable you to create a ticket when a customer logs a complaint and then enable your team to track it all the way to completion.
- Workflow automation: Assists in enforcing compliance to standard procedures and allows you to create easy-to-follow, consistent processes, thereby reducing errors and increasing productivity, transparency and control.
- Task processing: Custom workflow that automatically routes and assigns new cases to the correct contact person or department within an organisation safeguards the complaint from falling by the wayside. Through capturing, classifying and automatically assigning complaints to the right department, the system streamlines the complaint and improves productivity and efficiency of your team. Additional functionality that allows cases to be assigned and rapidly escalated, where needed, ensure a timely resolution of the complaint.
- Multiple channel: To effectively handle a complaint, a transparent track and trace record of the customer complaint with what has taken place becomes imperative. Having a consolidated record of the customer complaints through multiple channels, such as logged activities or phone calls, SMSes or e-mails automatically collected, will free up your team to focus on good customer service and assist in reconciliation of the complaint.
- Data and reporting: Enable real-time monitoring of complaints activity. Access to real-time data enables management to analyse and identify potential product or service improvements required. In addition, comprehensive control over how customer complaints are collected, recorded, reported and tracked assists companies to remain in compliance with industry guidelines and regulations.
Natasa Dallas – (+27) 11 484 5070