A customer complaint process is a key element of the Customer Feedback criterion of the Service Capabilities and Performance standard. Providing customers a structured process to capture their complaints about the organization’s products and services provides a two-fold benefit. First, it provides an opportunity to satisfy a dissatisfied customer by fixing a process or product failure; secondly complaints are an excellent source of feedback for driving improvements through the organization. With the service organization many times serving as the only window into the organization, they receive complaints about anything and everything.
While conducting audits, several organizations indicated that their customers just don’t complain to them. So does that mean there are few or no complaints? Not exactly. Customers may choose not to complain for several reasons, ranging from simple disinterest to it being too difficult to log a complaint. There are many techniques companies can use to assist in identifying customer complaints. One organization faced with only a few direct customer complaints took a unique approach to identifying customer complaints. With customers reluctant to provide formal complaints the management team turned to the service team for help. Once a quarter as a part of normal staff meetings the management team asked the frontline staff to identify the top three areas customers were complaining about or where they knew they had service gaps. These issues were discussed; potential solutions identified and tracked as a complaint. Progress on these issues were tracked through the complaint system and solutions communicated back to the service team and through customer newsletters.
This simple addition in the complaint process resulted in the service team acting proactively to prevent future customer complaints. It also served to get the service team to think like the customer!