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Five steps to effective complaints handling

Wed 22 Feb 2017

Complaints are an inevitable part of any organisation.

Effectively managing these complaints allows you to deliver a higher quality service to end customers.

We have put together our ‘five steps to effective complaint handling’ to help organisations realise the end-to-end processes involved and ensure all avenues have been explored.

Making contact

Handling customer communications effectively at the first point of contact is central to successfully resolving customer issues. Well managed customer contact minimises the risk of queries turning into complaints and helps to categorise complaints effectively to ensure they can be dealt with and resolved by the most appropriate teams. Making contact with your customer should be both proactive and reactive, issuing and receiving customer communications through multiple channels, letter, telephone and email, as well as new avenues such as text and social media.

Data validation and management

High quality customer data is essential to effective complaint handling. Good quality data leads to successful contact exercises, more accurate decision making, precise redress calculations and a clear audit trail. Good data fulfils your regulatory obligations, helps you to provide a better service and leads to increased customer satisfaction. The following processes should be undertaken to ensure the highest quality data: audit to identify incomplete and corrupt records; tracing ‘gone away’ customers; identification of affected populations for proactive contact exercises; cleansing and de-duplication; and segmentation of data into tranches and cohorts for further review.

Case management

Key phases of the complaints process include: data gathering and file building; assessing complaints; calculating redress; issuing final resolution letters; arranging payment; handling post-offer queries; and managing the Ombudsman relationship. It is vital to have correctly skilled individuals to handle each case professionally and in a compliant manner.

Redress payment

Accurately calculating and paying redress is essential to good complaint handling. The process may include: designing, testing and implementing redress calculation tools; writing and reviewing redress calculation procedures; modelling redress via in-house and/or proprietary calculation systems; processing of redress acceptance forms and handling queries; and updating payment systems; Issuing of BACS or cheque payments.

Root cause analysis

The cost of not dealing with customer complaints in the correct way can result in a loss of customer loyalty, defections to rivals, and loss of sales. Complaints offer excellent insight into the issues that customers face. Effectively capturing these complaints, classifying them and addressing their root causes helps to create a ‘virtuous cycle’ of improving customer satisfaction and ultimately reduces complaints.

Following these five steps to effective complaint handling and investing in high quality complaint handling can be the difference between losing business and reaffirming customer belief in your brand.