Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 7, 2018
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7min233

With the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards just around the corner, CXM spoke with James Walker, the CEO of awards partner Resolver, the online complaints portal that helps consumers raise and resolve issues quickly and effectively. In our exclusive interview, he outlines best practise for dealing with customer complaints in the digital age, where customers hold more power than ever before thanks to social media platforms…

 

Tell us about Resolver and the idea behind the organisation

It sounds clichéd, but Resolver really was founded by consumers, for consumers.

I started Resolver after having an issue with my boiler insurance policy and finding that it was inexplicably hard to resolve my problem. I saw that submitting a complaint was a time-consuming activity, and that consumers had to do some serious research to figure out where they stood when it came to their rights.

Resolver is a single, awesome resource that provides consumers with quick and easy access to the tools and knowledge they need to raise their issues efficiently – for free.

We believe that the best way to help consumers is by educating them about their rights and working with businesses to improve their services. To this end, we try to remain impartial wherever possible and bridge the gap between consumers and businesses.

We stick to a strong ethical code – we’re always going to be free to consumers, we don’t feature adverts, we don’t sell on our users’ personal data. Overall, we aim to be a guiding force that people can trust, building better markets for both businesses and consumers.  When someone complains, what do we do? We listen, and gather the details of their bad experience. We then explain what we are going to do to resolve it.

Do you think the UK has previously lacked an effective complaint handling culture?

While the various ombudsmen and regulators have all operated to the best of their capacity, the problem is that consumers faced a convoluted nightmare of differing rules, regulations, and powers that made for a highly inconsistent system of complaint handling.

Things are definitely getting better, but some industries are more focused on learning from consumers than others. The response to Resolver has been fantastic – we’ve been visited for guidance and advice by over 37 percent of UK households; had over 1.2 million cases raised in 2017; and seen the average consumer satisfaction score of our top 20 companies rise to 7.12 – up from 5.68 in 2016.

All signs that Resolver is delivering a massive improvement to the way the UK looks at complaints.

Why is complaint handling so important in the digital age?

It’s a simple fact that it’s getting a lot cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to find new ones. Firms only have a finite marketing budget, and there’s no point forking out a fortune on pulling in new customers if you’re haemorrhaging existing ones left, right, and centre.

The thing is, building a loyal base of customers previously demanded that businesses commit a certain amount of resources to customer services – difficult to do when businesses are already committed to other areas of growth. This is why efficient complaint handling is so important: businesses can commit less to customer service, build customer loyalty, and improve customer retention.

What are some of the basic skills a business requires to placate frustrated and angry customers?

It sounds so simple, but I can’t emphasise this enough – listen to your customers.

We believe that good customer service is about more than just papering over the cracks, and that complaints offer businesses a chance to make crucial improvements.

What most people want is pretty simple: we want to see that our comments have been listened too and addressed, even if we disagree with the response.

We want to feel like we’re being spoken to by a human being, not a cut-and-paste or auto-generated response. And increasingly we want our complaint addressed quickly. This speed in resolving an issue is also beneficial to the business in question.

What are some of the advances you foresee in Resolver and other digital platforms in this field?

It’s all about the data! At Resolver, we encrypt and keep our user’s data protected. We don’t sell it on or monetise it in any way. Resolver remains a free service.

But our experience with helping millions of people resolve complaints means we can use that knowledge to help businesses learn from the complaints they receive.

We can design software tailored to their individual needs that enables them to spot trends in complaints and act quickly. We can predict with increasing accuracy the complaints that can be resolved quickly and those that are likely to escalate to an ombudsman or the courts.

And we can help businesses navigate the legal and compliance requirements that come with regulation.

Speaking to businesses across a range of sectors, it’s clear from what they tell me that this will be invaluable in helping them improve the service they offer to consumers, and will make things quicker and simpler for everyone involved.

Similarly, as we make our data do more for consumers and businesses, we hope to work on automating certain sections of the complaints process. We want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to raise their issues – and as simple as possible for businesses to resolve them.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 1, 2018
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3min101

International Customer Experience (CX) consultant Ian Golding has joined Customer Experience Magazine as a Non-Executive Editor, bringing with him a wealth of industry experience, knowledge, and ideas to benefit the CX community in the UK and beyond.

Ian, who leads the successful Customer Experience Masterclasses and judges at the UK Customer Experience Awards, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on CX, and has helped countless firms realign to adapt their business for a changing consumer landscape, where the customer has taken control of how a brand is perceived publicly.

His appointment to this influential role at Customer Experience Magazine comes as Ian prepares for the official launch of his groundbreaking new book, Customer What?: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.
 
Described by the author as “part practice handbook, part novel, and part therapy”, the new tome covers the fundamentals of CX, along with a guide on how to overhaul the culture in a business to ‘make it happen’, and most importantly, ‘keep it that way’.

Speaking of the book and his motivation behind writing it, Ian said:

“Now, more than ever, should be a wonderful time to be a customer. I have observed, and been part of, a tidal wave of focus on Customer Experience, as businesses have increasingly recognised that doing the right thing by their customers, and actively managing the experience, might make sense.”

On his new role at CXM, Ian added:

“I’m looking forward to sustaining the advancement of knowledge and education across all CX skills, capabilities, and competencies, whilst continuing to inspire all those who have the genuine passion and desire to do the right thing for customers, employees, and shareholders alike.”

Welcoming Ian on board, CXM Editor Paul Ainsworth said:

As all those who have had the pleasure of learning from Ian will know, his knowledge of Customer Experience is unparalleled, along with his infectious passion for this ever-more relevant realm in the world of business.
We are thrilled at CXM to have his influence inspire our readership to do great things for their own customers, as we navigate further into a digital age which offers challenges for businesses, but also fantastic opportunities.”


Kate BirtlesKate BirtlesFebruary 1, 2018
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4min142

I am not usually one for looking back and reflecting, as there is too much to be had from life, with plenty on my horizon.

However, having recently studied for – and passed – my CCXP exam, I have paused to think about how I got here. The mix of individuals attending the CX Masterclass made me realise that our profession attracts so many different people from so many backgrounds and career choices.

I am now Director of CX for a certification body, but this was not my original career plan and my journey here has not been a traditional one.

To start with, I didn’t go to university – I went to a performing arts school and trained as a dancer. The main thing I learned, and still carry with me to this day from working in theatre, is that hard work and positivity is the key to success. Life as a dancer is hard graft and at times very harsh from an emotional perspective, even though I did have a ball.

Since leaving the professional theatre world I have worked in customer service with many different focuses, including retail, financial, projects, and customer contact. I have been very privileged in my career to have worked with some amazing people who truly believed in me and what I could achieve.

My business career started in credit management, where I quickly understood the importance of building relationships both inside and outside the organisation; my success in the role was dependent on good customer understanding.

Every role I have ever had – from operational leadership to project management – has always been about people.

I only had the realisation about two years ago that what I have been interested in and dipping my toe into was so much more than just customer service and developing people; my thirst for knowledge and prolific reading led me to research Customer Experience.

The proposition of sitting an exam in CX was rather daunting as my work up until I attended the training course was from my gut and what I felt was the right thing to do, rather than from a structured ‘profession’ approach.

However, the first training course with Ian Golding sparked so many ideas – ones which I had previously only tinkered at the edges of. It put everything into place for me.

There are clearly areas where I am stronger than others, and the help, guidance, and extra resources provided by Ian during that first session gave me the confidence to continue my learning.

I chose to take the exam after the CX Masterclass. The exam itself was far longer and more challenging than I had imagined. However, now I have the qualification I am so excited to be entering 2018 with access to a wealth of knowledge and support through the CCXP which will help me to deliver my customers a much more consistent and improved experience.




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