Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Complaint handling

Every business get complaints, whether they be from customers, suppliers or employees. The question is what processes do you have in place to deal with these? Are they handled in an ad hoc or a structured way? Are they reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that there are no fundamental flaws in business processes? How are the resolutions communicated to those who raised the complaint as well as others?

 

I would suggest that there aren’t many businesses that have a complaint handling system in place. We have all experienced making a complaint and then failing to have that complaint addressed or resolved to our satisfaction. However, if you have ever dealt with a business that did have an effective complaint system then you can probably appreciate how it may have actually increased your loyalty to that business. Why? Because you were treated with respect. Your concern was taken seriously, acted upon and you received timely communication as to its resolution. Unfortunately, these types of experiences seem to be few and far between these days.

 

Think about what processes you currently have in place to handle the whole complaint process. How easy is it for the complaint to be recorded in the first place? What steps are in place for it to be routed to the correct person? How can its progress be communicated to all parties, especially the person who made the complaint? How are the resolutions to complaints documented and made available for later reference? After any complaint how can your systems be reviewed to prevent any reoccurrence?

 

The cost of obtaining new customers is far high than retaining existing ones. Complaint handling should not be seen as a burden but as a chance to not only build customer loyalty but improve you internal systems. In many cases you can’t see the issues with your products and services because you are too close. That being so, your customers are in the best place to provide you with feedback (good and bad) as to how well these systems are delivering on their promises. Before you go and consider adding to these systems take a look at how you handle problems that may arise with them.