Customer Complaints: A Gift in Disguise
Werner, John. ASQ Six Sigma Forum Magazine12.3 (May 2013): 28-30. Abstract (summary)
Improving the complaint management process is important for any organization, and the rewards for establishing an effective process are substantial and well worth the effort. When customers experience a problem with a product or service, some will complain to the front-line personnel. Most organizations do not have a complaint tab or button on their home page or on their customer service pages. Customer complaint and loyalty research clearly shows that most organizations do not have any real idea of how well they are satisfying their customers. Providing ready and well-designed complaint handling processes that keep your customers informed, and responding with actions that satisfy your customers can create delight that can improve loyalty -- in some eases by 20%-30%. You should always remember the value of a customer complaint, as detailed in the book A Complaint Is a Gift. If more organizations could adopt this mindset, they would greatly improve customer satisfaction. Full text
Why do most organizations not recognize the value of customer complaints? Why is it so difficult for a customer to engage an organization around a complaint? Once engaged, do customers reward an organization for a job well done? I am no longer a young man. I have worked for 11 different organizations over my career across several different industries. I have also co-partnered a family with my wife, raised three children and have been a consumer buying stuff to support our quality of life. As a quality improvement professional, I have made it my business to ensure that when I felt an organization had not lived up to its quality promise, I attempted to engage that organization to resolve my problem. Improving the complaint management process is important for any organization, and the rewards for establishing an effective process are substantial and well worth the effort. Model process
First, let's provide some insights into what an effective complaint management process should look like. One of my favorite starting points whenever I begin to talk about high-performance organizations is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. The 2011-2012 criteria for business/nonprofit organizations state under Category 3 - Customer Focus: 3.2 Customer engagement: How do you engage customers to serve their needs and build relationships? b. Building customer relationships
(2) Complaint management: How do you manage customer complaints? How does your customer complaint management process ensure that complaints are resolved promptly and effectively? How does your customer complaint management process enable you to recover your customers' confidence and enhance their satisfaction and engagement? The Baldrige criteria provide definitions for important items: * Customer refers to actual and potential users of your organization's products, programs or services. * Process refers to linked activities with the purpose of producing a product (or service) for a customer (user) within or outside the organization. For our purposes, we will only focus on customers outside the organization. * Effective refers to how well a process or a measure addresses its intended purpose. * Customer engagement refers to your customers' investment in or commitment to your brand and product offering.1 The customer's experience
How well would your organization respond to this criteria? When customers experience a problem with a product or service, some of us will complain to die front-line personnel. These personnel usually include retail sales clerks, service managers at auto service centers, insurance agents and medical office staff. In a limited number of cases, these people are empowered to respond to your complaint, take action to fix your problem and make you satisfied again. But in many...
References: REFERENCES AND NOTES
1 . To see the entire definition for each item refer to the Baldrige criteria, www.nist.gov/ baldrige/publications/business_nonprofit_ criteria.cfm.
2. John Goodman, "Manage Complaints to Enhance Lovaltv," Quality Progress, February 2006, pp. 28-34.
3. Complaint rates vary· by type of problem and industry.
4. Goodman, "Manage Complaints to Enhance Loyalty," see reference 2.
5. Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller, ? Complaint is a Gift. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., 2008.
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