Complaints are big business, and getting bigger.
As consumers we’ve now got so many ways to vent our frustration with a product, service or company. And in an increasingly time-poor society driven by social media, we expect immediate resolution to our complaint.
The knock-on effect is that complaints are big business for businesses too. With regulatory, financial and reputational pressures attacking organisations from all sides, companies are finally waking up and smelling the coffee. No longer is the complaints department hidden away in a darkened back office. Now it’s front and centre, and integral to the company’s corporate reputation and overall customer experience.
The complaints department (or customer experience or service recovery department, with some clever rebranding) has hit the big time.
And this new-found limelight was evident at the UK Complaint Handling Awards in London, starring over 500 complaints professionals. A chance to celebrate those unsung heroes who manage our complaints. And, as a judge, a chance to take a closer look at some of the innovations in complaints handling – to see first-hand how companies are striving to deal with our complaints more effectively.
The big takeaways? Yes there have been some incredible technology developments to determine and analyse the root cause of complaints, to predict consumer complaints behaviour using data analytics, and to streamline customer journey processes so customers get the right answer, on the right channel and at the right time. That is clearly a large part of the puzzle.
But to me, the entries that stood out went for a more back to basics approach – the human touch – where complaints teams were encouraged to get on the phone with the customer, listen to their concerns and resolve them there and then. A warm phone call or an empathetic email goes a long way to keeping a customer happy, and ultimately turning that complaint into a loyal customer.