Companies in the business of dealing with people know how important customer complaints management is – after all, there are very few companies that do not interact with customers on some level; even if there is no direct interaction.
The rules have changed a lot over the past few years, and they are changing even more just about each and every month. What worked in the early part of the 2000s will not work in 2013 – consumers have a far greater soapbox now for one thing, and the way that we communicate in general has also changed greatly.
Customer Complaints in the Era of Technology
What exactly are the ‘new rules’ that need to be considered for our current era, and what should companies be doing to adhere to best practices on complaints management? Here are some important things to keep in mind…
- Customers are no longer limited to posted letters, limited email and telephone calls. Now, they have all of those channels, as well as personal blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, consumer feedback websites, forums AND word of mouth. Worse still, feedback posted online that mentions your company will show up in internet search results when people are searching for your business online.
- Customers are more likely to report on a bad experience than a good one. What this means is that even though the past 150 customers who have purchased your wildly popular gizmo via your snazzy online store are thrilled, not all of them will be shouting your praise to the world. The one or two customers who were not too happy about that gizmo (or your store, or even your delivery process) are another story. Those are the ones who will tell everyone they can just how terrible your company, products and store are – often, on multiple channels for good measure.
- Customers can not only become happy again, they can even become your number one fans. This is however, provided that you deal with their complaints properly. Complaints should not be seen as a bad thing for starters – this is a chance to improve your services and goods for the better. For another thing, the way that problems are addressed makes a lot more difference than the actual issue in many cases. In order to effectively address the complaint, you first need to catch it early, escalate it properly and route it to the right person though.
As you can see, the rules continue to change pretty much all the time. What doesn’t change however is the fact that response time and reaction are both vital when it comes to making a bad situation into a good one.
Automating the complaints process with a good software tool is one way to improve your overall systems. You may also want to think about other tools such as competency testing for employees who deal directly with customers. Product reviews and preventative measures such as customer surveys, and also making sure that customers can easily air their views should be top of mind too.
At the end of the day you see, it is far easier to handle a small upset soon after it happens, than risk dealing with the public relations disasters that can (and do) happen overnight when customer complaints are left unchecked. Quite an easy choice really when you think about it that way.
Christopher Stainow is actively involved in the streamlining of business quality processes and procedures through the use of quality management tools & document control software. Learn more at lennoxhill.co.uk.