This year I had the great opportunity to judge at the UK Complaint Handling Awards, covering the latest in complaint handling practices.
After my return from the event my colleagues and friends asked me, Marcus, what did you learn?
First, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people across various industries, including Telcos, Banks, Insurances, Utility providers and many Government agencies.
That’s always one of the great things about participating at an Awards event.
The complaint handling practices shared in this article come from my role as a Judge.
As a Judge, I had the chance to meet all the Entrants, read their written submissions and listen to their respective face to face presentations to the panel.
As a result I learned some of the latest complaint handling practices out there in award winning Organizations.
Across all the Complaint Handling Team Entrants, 3 important things stood out
There were 3 key complaint handling practices that I picked up from interacting with all the Complaint Handling Teams.
To improve the Customer complaint handling ‘practice’ within their Organization, they focused on:
- Analysing data from the Customer point of view
- Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time
- Targeting the Ownership of the complaint
Let me give some more detail on each learning
1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view
The Complaint Handling Teams indicated that they analyzed thousands of recorded calls, reviewed piles of surveys and read through thousands of emails and contact forms submitted by Customers.
Their strategic purpose was clear – to understand their Voice of the Customer.
The Complaint Handling Teams told us that, though other departments and functions did their own sets of analyses, they felt that pure focus on the Voice of Customer was missing.
So they created their own analysis function.
Guess, how important is it to the Customer that you use their names three or five times during a call?
Isn’t it more important to listen and understand what their concern or matter is?
Entrants started to read between the lines – from the Customer point of view – and acted on what they learned.
2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time
Equipped with the results of their analyses, the Complaint Handling Team went to their Management to propose changes to processes or rules that caused Customer discomfort.
Some of the process changes the Complaint Handling Teams shared were –
They took out the Average Handling Time to measure the Agent’s performance.
Agents suddenly had the freedom to listen, to react and find with the Customer a solution.
Escalation processes decreased dramatically. Agents started to become more personal in their conversations.
Frontliners & Agents were officially empowered.
They were given the power to decide on the spot what to do for the Customer instead of getting permission from their superiors.
That helped to ease processes for the customer and complaint could be resolved during one contact.
Adding empowerment to the job makes it more interesting, enjoyable and challenging as well.
Some Complaint Handling Teams introduced new technology into the Contact Centres to support staff members.
Technology was introduced to support Team members to read the Customer’s history, react proactively, share information with other departments and schedule follow ups.
Training around the new technology and processes was scheduled and conducted so Employees were prepared before using the newsolutions.
That eased the transition for the Customer and held back stress on the Employees.
Interestingly, many complaints stemmed from questions about bills and statements.
The Complaint Handling Teams shared they were in the process of breaking this big topic down into workable parts.
3. Owning the Complaint
The Complaint Handling Teams shared was how important the concept of ownership was to complaint resolution.
That took one of two forms.
The Customer gets either one point of contact to deal with them all the way through.
Or the Customer history is made available to everyone in the Organization, and they are tasked to work together to resolve the issue.
While technology supported or ‘helped’ it was the process and the people that put things into action.
This really impressed me.
This year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018) have shown that Listen & Understanding the Customer’s Voice, more accessibility of data to Agents, simpler processes and taking ownership, lead to big improvements in Customer Experience.
Aside from the many KPIs, like NPS, that were presented, the most impressive part was the presentation was the gathered feedback from real Customers.
These Customers’ shared how impressed they were about the good care (“Ownership”), the easy processes (“History availability/System improvements”) and someone listened and heard their issues (Data analytics).
The Customers felt they were heard and more importantly helped. They seemed to like using email to share their compliments.
In all cases, these simple changes reduced dramatically painful Customer Journeys throughout the organisations.
The Customer experience score for the organization went up dramatically.
I am glad to share that investment in data analytics, new processes and training in Frontline training have really paid off.
All the Complaint Handling Teams were able to demonstrate a financial ROI to back up their work.
They all retained Customers, gained new business and got promoted by their now happy Customers to others.
Isn’t this reason enough to start thinking on this?
Thank you for reading!
Marcus von Kloeden