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The Importance of Using a Consolidated Complaints Database

by Paul Evans

Many companies today operate with several complaints databases instead of one consolidated source of truth. Some might have been developed for a specific division or group, or other during a certain project, yet the end result is the same: a fragmented view of who is complaining about what across your whole company.

For example, your marketing team might collect complaints on social media channels (check out the example  of a complaint posted on Facebook below) while other complaints would be collected by customer service. This provides for two complaints databases with different data and a possibly different demographic.

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Always remember that one of the end goals of managing complaints is to find out who is complaining about what, so you can figure out the problem and fix it so other customers don’t experience it. So using several different databases can lead to a waste of time and energy, effectively limiting the efficiency of your complaints gathering.

The solution then lies through one main “Source of Truth”.

Simply stated, a Source of Truth is (ideally) the single place that you go to see your complaints, whether they arrived via social media outlets, through your website, or through email or phone. The entire point of the concept is that your company keeps accurate complaints in one place for any complaint about any product or service your company provides.

Once you have a single database, the next issue to tackle is the accuracy, value and meaning of the data stored there. Many complaints handling systems allow the users to type in information that is not validated; for example, a date entered that is not validated can result in human error capturing a meaningless. (“When did you buy the product”; this date must always be either today or a date in the past, but it can never be in the future.)

Not validating the data entered by customer service or the customers themselves results in capturing a lot of information that is not only useless, but that can also cause a lot of wasted time and increase complaint handling costs and render reporting and statistics useless.

Keep in mind that the Source of Truth is also used to get a complete picture of your complaints, the inability of which increases the chance of complaints falling through the cracks. This slip will ultimately prevent you from standardizing the customer experience--regardless of the channel used to complain.

Another of the main problems that happens in Complaints Management Departments is the lack of standardized processes used in complaints systems.

Standardized processes are exactly what they sound like: a set of processes that provide for consistency regardless of the nature of complaint, the channel the complaint was captured in and the skill level or experience of the Complaints Officer.

So why use standardization?

Well, for several reasons, all of which aim for greater overall efficiency and these three long term goals:

  1. Assisting the complaints officer in managing complaints
  2. Decreasing response rate
  3. Creating better overall customer and business outcomes.

Your company should take an active effort to standardize all of your complaints processes, including complaints collection/capture, assignment/routing, investigation (making enquiries to other departments and external service providers and tracking them), and responses (letters/emails advising of the outcome).

One example of standardized processes is the use of standardized templates for communicating to customers, internal stakeholders or external parties via SMS, email and printed letter. The Complaints Officer simply finds the template, generates the communication and sends it via the above mentioned channels. That communication item must be automatically stored against the complaint without the complaints officer having to do it manually, thereby creating a communication history and audit log without wasting the Complaints Officers time.

Check out the below example of a template email that Click Connection Corporation uses to address customers.

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Not only will this save time, the process provides for repeatability in the workplace resulting in predictability, control and of course a consistent customer experience. On top of all that, standardized processes are great for your employees; they’re both easy to learn and teach.

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Topics: Best Practices in Complaints Management

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About Coretec

The Coretec team of complaints, quality and technology experts put together their 40+ years of expertise in customer services and quality assurance to create Complaints Pro. We are focused on client satisfaction and achieving results. We don't want you to just settle for just managing complaints. Record, Resolve and Report is not enough. Go beyond that. Use customer insight to grow your company and continue to improve.