The Leading Contact Centre Magazine

New solutions for cutting complaints


Want to cut complaints?

We asked our panel for their advice on handling customers, even when things don’t go according to plan.

Fix the source

The key to dealing with complaints is to seek out where they originate from and fix that. One quick search around the internet will find many people complaining about the same thing with the same company.

If you appoint someone to find the origin of the complaint, they can quickly report their findings to the relevant heads of departments and the problem can be fixed.

David Elliott, Channel Manager at Captivate Global

Listen

Sometimes the best advice is the simplest: Listen to what the customer wants, not what you think they want and what you think will satisfy them.

It sounds simple, but it is difficult to get right.

Thanks to Keith Stapleton, Select Planning LTD

Know your customer

Customer complaints need to be monitored closely to ensure that unhappy customers don’t go unnoticed.

Our thinking is to identify the signs customers give us and determine what they truly mean (achieved by profiling hundreds of similar customers over a significant length of time) so that we can classify similar types of customers with similar issues, address complaints consistently and stop customers leaving.

For us, having a system in place which gives a true insight into the customer at all stages of our customer relationship has proved invaluable and enabled us to increase customer share and satisfaction.

Thanks to Debbie

Tweet professionally

Susannah Richardson

Susannah Richardson

Where companies often go wrong when embracing Twitter is that the people reviewing the Twitter feeds are often marketers and not agents who are trained in the handling of complaints.

If we view Twitter as just another channel into the contact centre then there is no reason that a complaint can’t be handled in the same way as any other complaint through any other channel. The conversation may start in Twitter but can move to email and voice as required, so removing the constraints of 140 characters.

Remember: Don’t drop your guard just because Twitter is an unconventional platform. You are still handling customers and managing your company’s reputation.

Susannah Richardson, mplsystems

Stay one step ahead

John Batty

John Batty

Complaints arise when companies do not deal with problems effectively and fail to communicate with their customers.

Staying one step ahead of the customer with explanatory and helpful details, even if things are going wrong, will reduce the effort required of the customer and improve the customer experience.

John Batty, Client Success Manager at Aspect Software

Educate your customer

I believe educating the customer and providing FAQs could save them time and frustration, as half the complaints we have to deal with are more to do with confusion than an actual problem (that has a root cause that can be investigated and resolved).

If the consumer is provided with easily accessible information then they will be able to guide themselves to the solution. This will prevent them from waiting on the phone, getting increasingly agitated and cursing your company’s name.

Thanks to Andrew

Use proactive customer service

Use proactive customer service to identify customer needs before they become problems.  This will allow you to forewarn your customers about how the issue may affect them, what you are doing about it, and what the next steps are.

Often the worst thing in a customer’s mind is not knowing what is happening. So keep customers informed throughout all emergency situations and complaint handling processes – because honesty is an extremely effective way of showing customers that you really do value them.

Laura Campos, Ultra Communications

Get everyone on the same page

80% of complaints are usually prompted because the original request for assistance was not dealt with adequately, if at all, the first time round.

A unified agent desktop is able to monitor the status of customer requests, presenting that status to the agent every time the customer makes contact, and giving agents the tools to deal with issues without them having to hand over to other departments or log into back-office systems.

Susannah Richardson, mplsystems

Know your business

You will only reduce customer complaints if your company understands its own end-to-end processes and the root cause is identified all the way back to its source.

Thanks to Geoff

Be prepared

Because disaster can strike at any time, planning for the flood of customer calls it can bring can be extremely tricky. Ensure your call centre technology is duplicated, so that if you lose access to technology at one location, you can seamlessly and quickly switch to another location to ensure business continuity.

Laura Campos, Ultra Communications

Maintain quality

Sean Colledge

Sean Colledge

Spend time ensuring that your company is working efficiently. By auditing processes and quality checking the work of personnel, complaints will be avoided and managed before they appear.

Sean Colledge, Training and Performance Manager at Office Response Ltd

Be realistic

I think one of the primary issues with complaints is setting realistic timescales for solutions, and helping the customer to understand why the response to their complaint is restricted.

FCR (first contact resolution) isn’t always the best way to go, as it sometimes means you miss that tiny detail that causes a problem to escalate.

Thanks to Andrew

Act quickly

You’ll always get complaints… that’s just life – you cannot get everything right all of the time, and there will always be things outside of your control, too. The key is to act quickly and keep people informed.

Ironically, sometimes the perfect experience, where nothing goes wrong and you have limited contact, becomes forgettable and doesn’t create loyalty. Bad experiences that are fixed and fixed quickly can and do create even more loyal customers.

Thanks to Richard Piatkowski

What solutions do you use to help cut customer complaints? Please leave your ideas in an email to Call Centre Helper

Published On: 28th Aug 2013 - Last modified: 30th Oct 2017
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , , ,


4 Comments
  1. The keyto successful complaint handling is finding common ground and being on a level footing with the customer. Find reasons to agree with the customer and be empathetic. Confirm your understanding and that you know how they feel, and importantly you are “sorry they FEEL THAT WAY”. Move quickly on to the solution and do not discuss the problem in too much detail over and over.

    Chris - HRG 29 Aug at 10:41 am
  2. Be proactive in identifying what’s not working for your Customers. Set clear expectation with the customer on timelines to resolve their complaints and keep them proactively updated on status of their conplaint. It’s important to keep in touch to build confidence and reputation of your brand/ Company.

    Satish Kajaya 30 Aug at 4:22 am
  3. Concentrate on a simple complaint capturing process. Make a list of the complaints. Get stuck in to the root cause of them. There are really three types of complaint. Ones the organisation wants to put right. Second, the ones the organisation knows the root cause of, but chooses for commercial reasons to live with. Three, those complaints the organisation is too badly organised or gutless to put right properly!

    Michael Allen 30 Aug at 10:02 am
  4. Ensure your Social Media platforms are monitored (and responded to)at least every 3 hours. You need to ensure a customers complaint does not go viral before you have even had a chance to investigate.

    Kevin O'Toole 6 Sep at 1:21 pm
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