Complaint Process Management
- Service & Complaints Guides
- A Practical Guide to Handling Consumer Complaints
- Best Practices in Handling Customer Complaints
- A Guide for Consumer Complaints Management
- 6 Steps to Achieve Customer Service Excellence
World-class service providers, which is what Americans expect their government to be, have a carefully developed complaint handling process. That process is customer-focused, is clearly understood by all employees, has performance standards, and is linked to the core operation. Without a well-designed and well-managed process, complaints are often handed off to different offices for response, delaying and generally increasing the cost of the response. The best-in-business organizations do the following.
Really Know Their Processes
Each and every one of this study's benchmarking partners had a process map for their complaint handling processes. They told us that the map was key to understanding what was going on and was invaluable in perceiving the gaps between the goal of delighting the customer and what was currently taking place. Many companies begin by using simple flow charting methodology. Some have subsequently developed more complex and more graphic maps, but they all map their process.
Customer representatives and complaint process managers clearly understand the services and products offered by their company or agency. They study and understand the customers' expectations. For example, at one company, customer telephone surveys are used to monitor the expectations of customers who call with a problem. At one public sector organization, managers analyze verbatim comments from complaints when they set performance goals for customer representatives. Another, with a client feedback program, surveys and analyzes survey information from recent clients, forwards all comments anonymously to the client representative at each facility. These concerns are included as part of each facility's client representative program performance.
Research by this benchmarking team indicated that the best complaint departments have immediate goals to fix the problem at hand, satisfy the customer to the extent allowed by company policy or the law, and to make systemic improvements to prevent the problem from recurring. They strive to prevent problems through revised procedures and support for on-the-spot and post-event complaints recovery by front-line staff and managers. All of the offices that we visited knew how well they were meeting this goal.
There are different processes for meeting the goal depending on how the customer contacts the organization. For example, customers contact service providers by telephone, letter, in person or via the Internet. The goals, resources, personnel, and results varied, but universally the best in business knew their processes thoroughly and they made it easy to complain. They provide one-stop resolution and if hand-offs are necessary, they are seamless (transparent to the customer). First call problem resolution while the customer is on the telephone is an element of world-class complaint handling.
Use Customer and Employee Input to Design processes
Developing a world-class complaint process begins and ends with the customer. At one company, customers participate throughout the process of product design, development, and support in order to express concern at the front-end of product delivery. Program managers respond to customer problems directly, and senior executives maintain ongoing, personal contact with customers. The U.S. Postal Service has more than 1,700 active Customer Advisory Councils that advise on the public's needs for both delivery and problem resolution. The U.S. Postal Service used focus groups of both customers and employees from various areas of the country and feedback from customer satisfaction surveys to develop their complaint resolution process. As a result of using extensive customer and employee input, the U.S. Postal Service found that they were able to improve the quality of responses and reduce cycle time and costs.
The best-in-business design their complaint process with input from both customers and employees. They develop a culture that supports teamwork with the customer as part of the team. They design the process with top management commitment, performance measurements and a direct link to core processes. At one of our benchmarking partners, the customer relations personnel monitor customer feedback. They select a small number of items the customers complained about most often as target issues. Once these issues are identified, individual customer satisfaction committees are formed that link those issues with mission objectives. The complaint process is monitored to correct root causes of dissatisfaction.and the results for these target customer satisfaction issues are reported to the Executive Committee
The benchmarked companies and agencies had built a technologically advanced infrastructure to answer complaints and other customer inquiries. They use 1-800 numbers, sophisticated telecommunication systems, Automated Call Distributors (ACDs), caller ID, imaging systems and office automation for state of the art on-line customer support systems. For example, one company has an automated system that allows service representatives to capture information about each member contact and make it accessible to everyone in the organization.
Practice Continuous Process Improvement
In business as in the Olympics, the bar is constantly being raised. Whether it be foreign competition, technological innovation, or more effective management and teamwork, each of us must produce more and better results with fewer and fewer resources. The key to beating the competition and keeping up with the times is continuous improvement. The key to continuous improvement is to refine, redesign, and improve your processes while putting the customer first.
All of our benchmarking partners focused their attention on process improvement and they were good at it. Customers were kept involved, employees were recruited and trained with long range improvement in mind. Top management was kept informed along with the front-line. Best practices were developed by benchmarking and were carefully implemented and recorded. Performance measures were constantly monitored to identify gaps that could lead to opportunities to make things better. Employees were empowered to suggest and make process changes that help customers. Improvements were recognized.The complaint process was viewed as a loop with the customer at the beginning and at the end and with the core operating processes in the middle. Constant feedback from both customers and employees and constant reevaluation based on satisfaction measurement assure constant improvement. These incremental improvements lead to service excellence which is a winning strategy that can make government work better and cost less. Everyone wins!
- Both customers and employees must understand the complaint process.
- If the goals for response time are too stringent the quality of the resolutions will be negatively affected.
- Future directions: Customers ability to answer their own questions will increase with more information being published on e-mail and telephone systems that facilitate automated account information.
- Continuous improvement is key to beating the competition.
How Does Your Organization Measure up?
- How does your organization design its complaint handling processes?
- How do you involve the customer in the recovery process?
- How does your organization create a culture that builds continuous improvement into all processes?
- Does your organization invest in the infrastructure needed to make your complaint handling process effective both in customer recovery and minimizing costs?
- How does your organization use complaint information to make operational improvements?
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Leadership Strategies for Satisfying Customers
- Information and Analysis
- Human Resource Development and Management
- Managing Customer Expectations and Satisfaction
- Complaint Process Management
- Business Results
- Appendix I: Reinventing Complaint Resolution
- Entire Guide
Customer loyalty is very important to us. Our mission is to be the company’s lens to the customer’s perspective, promoting a customer-focused culture. i-Sight was the most user-friendly tool we found. We could also implement it pretty quickly in all countries.Complaint Management Program Manager, Siemens