Handling Customer Complaints
Building a Proactive Complaint Management System
Regardless of how good your organization's customer service is, it is inevitable that at some time you will have unhappy customers.
That is why it is important that you have a system in place for handling customer complaints.
By being proactive you will not only show your customers that you value them, you will also gather a lot of information that can be used for internal and external benchmarking and improvement.
To be able to handle complaints pro-actively you must look at your actual service levels and compare them with customer expectations.
It's fair to say that complaints usually follow when service levels
fall below the organization's performance standards. Knowing this, your
company should put in place a robust complaint management system.
As well as being better prepared, you will have added customer value by creating a service that the customer may not be expecting, i.e., an immediate response to their concerns and grievances and offering compensation such as a discount or money off voucher.
Interestingly, this kind of resolution with a customer can often result in increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
A complaints handling system can also be used when a service provider knows in advance that they will be unable to meet customer expectations.
For example, a train company can plan in advance how it will handle the knowledge that one of their trains will be late.
There is nothing worse than lack of information for customers in their hour of need. A proactive system must take this into consideration and have robust lines of communication built into to it.
Everyone in the company should be aware of the complaints process and understand the importance of swift action.
Complaint handling software can be used when dealing with a large
number of complaints, or a consumer complaint form can be designed to
a manual process.
Proactive managing of complaints involves empowerment of customer
facing employees. An honest, consistent response together with a plan to
things right will satisfy all but of the most difficult customers.
Other skills that need to be demonstrated are good listening skills, the ability to think on one's feet and flexibility.
Listening to the customer and getting to the root of what went wrong can be beneficial to both the customer and the organization. The term customer feedback is often used in this instance, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as the feedback is acted upon and preventative measure are taken to avoid service shortfalls in the future.
Most importantly, your complaint handling system needs to be accessible and easy to use. It goes without saying that it should be clear to the customer how to make a complaint.
Although inviting complaints may seem like a step to far, this really is what proactive handling of customers complaints is all about.