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What is Complaint Management?

Complaint management holds significant importance in today's business world. Every business must understand that effectively handling customer complaints is a process that should be targeted. In this section, we will explore why complaint management is so crucial and how it can provide advantages to businesses.


A Comprehensive Look at Complaint Management

You may have designed a product or service perfectly, paying attention to every detail and presented it to your customers accordingly. Despite all the effort you’ve put in to make everything perfect, don’t be surprised if you suddenly receive a complaint from a customer about any issue! In today’s conditions, it’s inevitable to receive a complaint from customers on an unexpected issue. What matters is how you handle and resolve this complaint and that you have institutionalized this solution.

In today’s business world, one of the most important factors leading a business or organization to success – and one that can provide effective results in a short time when done correctly – is undoubtedly your ability to manage customer complaints effectively. Today’s competitive conditions no longer present this as an option but a necessity.

In this article, you will find a brief and clear guide for businesses that are either advancing in customer complaint management or just starting; those who want to improve their current methods, find out how to do better, and solve their problems easily and effectively. We will define what customer complaint management is, and clarify its scope, and while doing so, we will also talk about its basic principles and give tips for implementation. We will share information on how to turn encountered customer complaints into an advantage.

What is Complaint Management?

Do we really know what we mean by managing complaints? So, what exactly should come to mind when we talk about complaint management?

Here is the definition of complaint management: Complaint management is the strategic process of receiving, analyzing, solving customer complaints, and using this process to increase customer satisfaction. In the broadest sense, we can consider all stages that occur in the business from the receipt (recording) of the complaint to its resolution within the scope of complaint management.

First, the customer conveys their complaint or feedback to us, then documents the issue at hand, and the complaint begins its journey to be resolved by the relevant units of the business... until it is resolved and the process is closed by the business units. We simply call this entire process complaint management.

How Should Complaint Management Be?

Before constructing our structure related to complaint management, it is beneficial to understand the stages of the complaint management process and to adopt the basic principles that are applied and accepted worldwide by thinking through these stages, i.e., knowing in which framework we will design our system step by step and especially designing our customer service management software accordingly. Here are these basic principles:

Customer focus: Today, large and developed service and product providers in both local and global markets have adopted a customer-focused business management approach. Naturally, customers are at the center of complaint management as well. The customer-focused approach involves more than just satisfying the customer; it cannot be reduced to this concept alone. Maintaining and/or improving product and service quality through customer feedback, learning about new emerging needs and demands, and showing change and development accordingly are among other requirements and benefits of customer focus. Only by doing this can you stand out among your competitors and make a difference naturally and effortlessly.

Omnichannel: For effective customer relations and service management, it’s very important to design-determine the channels through which your customers can convey their complaints in an easily accessible manner without unnecessary barriers. You can arrange these channels as different types of communication channels, such as email addresses, special complaint lines, online complaint forms, personal and face-to-face interaction channels, social media platforms, etc. Today’s most important communication strategy is omnichannel communication, which means simultaneous and integrated customer communication from all communication channels. When your customer wants to convey a complaint to you, they should not waste any time, should be able to convey their complaint easily and simply using their preferred complaint channel, and then should receive feedback that their complaint has reached you. What the resolution and waiting times will be should also be clearly stated in advance. Regularly informing about the process will increase your customers’ trust in the process.

Effective workflows: Another principle should be to conduct a quick and effective resolution process. You should develop your system in this direction. What provides speed is ensuring seamless and effective workflows between business units. The information should be transmitted to the relevant units immediately and as part of the solution, in a meaningful, without accumulation, without repetition, and in an understandable manner by the system. The system you use should guide users through all stages of the solution, enhance their knowledge and skills, and reduce the possibility of making mistakes.

Transparency principle: Today, the principle of transparency is among the essentials in our changing ways of doing business. So much so that sharing both the process and the outcome transparently, regardless of whether the customer is satisfied with the solution or not, reflects positively on businesses. Customers do not interfere with the complaint management process if they can monitor what stage of the solution you are in and trust the process you have designed for the solution. It’s now an undeniable fact that transparency saves time and reputation for your business. Therefore, you should automatically inform your customers about the stages of the solution and even allow your customers to transparently follow the steps of the solution.

Documentation and analysis: Documentation and analysis is another fundamental principle of complaint management. The guarantee that complaint management can improve and renew itself and your business is its ability to create resources for analysis and even directly analyze. You should analyze and know your customer well. Designing your system based on your previous experiences and continuously improving it enables the satisfaction of your customers. Continuous and periodic analyses not only improve customer experience but also play an important role in improving the product, service, and internal process blockages. Think about the value that using these analyses when making strategic decisions will bring to businesses. Moving forward with confident steps and taking steps whose outcomes can be predicted in advance are possible in this way.

Root cause analysis, especially in the field of customer experience management, has a slightly more special importance due to its strong return. This analysis is like finding the cause of a disease. It's much more valuable and a priority than alleviating symptoms. This means; by analyzing customer complaints, you can reach the root cause of the complaints. We call this root cause analysis. The cause of the complaint may be incidental, one-time, or may be due to errors or deficiencies that are likely to recur in the future but are changeable, correctable, and predictable. In this case, finding the root cause and revising your product or service accordingly keeps you away from repeated complaints.

Empathize: If you adopt the principle of empathy, you can put yourself in your customer’s place, approach your customer calmly and solution-oriented, meet their expectations, and create satisfaction in your customer’s eyes both during the complaint resolution process and after the process is completed. Customers want to be taken seriously. You may encounter challenging experiences sometimes. Even in these situations, do not lose respect.

Be fair: Being fair is another principle of complaint management. Knowing that their problems have been resolved impartially and without prejudice positively affects the value your customers give to you. Taking responsibility when necessary and covering a fair compensation strengthens trust in your business.

Privacy:  As mandated by relevant legal regulations, not sharing your customer’s personal information without their consent is of utmost importance. Customer privacy is fundamental. The sensitivity you show towards this issue in the changes you make in your system will keep you away from potential future adversities.

The most advanced and effective method that incorporates all the features listed above is a system architecture that you can implement with the workflows you desire, tailored specifically for you: CRM. The CRM system offers you a simplified and purified set of possibilities for both your customers and your internal operations. What you need to do is to demonstrate the ability to adapt this system to your needs.

What are the Benefits of Customer Complaint Management?

“I would rather lose money than trust.” – Robert Bosch

Let’s delve into how timely and effectively resolved customer complaints can turn into an advantage for businesses.

A customer whose issue is resolved satisfactorily is likely to become a staunch follower and advocate of your brand. Even if they encounter a problem, as long as they trust in its resolution and remain satisfied with your product or service, they will naturally accept the issues they’ve experienced. Since your customers will research you on social media before deciding to purchase or after purchasing your products or services, and look at comments and evaluations about you, every positive opinion shared about a complaint resolution acts like a brick added to the wall of trust.

  • The satisfaction of your customer in the complaint management resolution process also leads them to recommend you, meaning new customers for you. That's why businesses have started to view investment in complaint management as a necessity.
  • You get the chance to identify and rectify issues in your product or service. Without being aware of a problem, you cannot take action to solve it. Therefore, you can use this information to turn a problem into an opportunity.
  • You learn about your customers' expectations from you. This allows you to improve your product or service or develop new products and services that meet customers' expectations.
  • You can allocate your resources to the right areas.
  • You can identify areas where your employees are lacking and train them. Complaints related to employees are not insignificant. This creates a good opportunity for you to improve your human resources.
  • It helps you make informed decisions regarding product development, service, and internal process improvements. The reports and analyzes the system will generate for you will provide a data source.

Why is Complaint Management Important?

Professional and effective customer complaint management signifies a positive customer experience. This is made possible by business processes designed with an omnichannel approach. Without the consolidation of customer complaints and actions taken for resolution in a single information pool, there’s no possibility for rapid and effective resolution of customer requests. This was something we all experienced as both customers and business and service providers before the technological advancements in complaint management. We had to direct a lot of human resources, time, and financial resources to this area. Our solutions were far from creating 100% customer satisfaction. Therefore, businesses that invest in today’s technology, which can adapt to tomorrow’s developments, creating an omnichannel solution, will have significant superiority over others.

What kind of system do you need? What features should the system you will design according to the principles mentioned above have?

  1. A central database that collects complaints and feedback from established channels in an information pool.
  2. Capable of processing this information according to its subjects,
  3. Offering documentation and archiving possibilities with all details,
  4. Enabling division of labor and collaboration among different units and departments within the company,
  5. Defining workflows containing pre-prepared solution steps for resolving customer complaints,
  6. Capable of generating tables and data analysis reports for analysis,
  7. Easily designed and adaptable without the need for technical support.

A tool that encompasses all these features is an effective Customer Service Management (CSM) system. The CSM system you use in the area of complaint management provides you with a centralized, facilitative, and adaptable structure for customer data, interactions, and actions taken.

Despite all these positive features, you may encounter resistance in addressing and resolving complaints in your business. It is important to note that complaint management is not a method of appeasing customers who have experienced problems. It is a contemporary and innovative approach that offers the opportunity to proactively reassess and improve your business operations, your way of doing business, and your product and service quality to the required level. Every effort you make to improve the customer experience during your customer’s time with your product or service will return to you as positive added value. Regardless of the type, content, or severity of the complaint you receive, the way you handle and resolve it will be memorable and will play a significant role in building trust in you and in the demand for your products/services.

“Every complaint is a gift” – Janelle Barlow

Complaint management is an approach that all businesses, small or large, wish to incorporate into their companies. It has become an integral part of the operational structure in the modern world. Although complaints may seem like challenging actions for businesses, it’s not quite the case for customer-centric businesses. They are able to turn challenges into business opportunities because they have grasped the holistic structure of complaint management, adopted its principles, and designed their processes accordingly. Success stories of companies that prioritize complaint management standing out among their peers are notable. You could be one of them…

Gürkan Platin
Gürkan Platin, a graduate of Hacettepe University Management and Organization, worked as a manager in various positions at Mensan, Citibank, Garanti Bank and Credit Registration Bureau, respectively. Platin has been blogging since 1996 and his articles are published in various national and international publications.
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