As businesses of all shapes, sizes and scopes find themselves trying to mitigate increasingly transient customer demographics, we’re all having to work harder on our customer retention strategies. More than ever, the emphasis for most businesses has shifted to building and nurturing sustainable, long-term customer relationships, using the available tools and information to revolutionise the Customer Experience (CX), and encourage new depths of customer loyalty.
But, in a digital world where actual physical interactions are becoming increasingly rare, it’s proving more difficult for businesses to build these vital relationships.
One of the few areas where 1-2-1 interactions do occur is in complaints management, with the entire process generating valuable, timely and comprehensive customer information and feedback, all of which have the potential to inform wider business strategy. As such, it’s crucial that executives recognise the value of complaints as a strategic business tool.
Where once ‘resolve and close’ was the overarching goal when it came to complaints, this is no longer the case. Businesses now recognise the long-term, far-reaching value that can be derived from the entire complaints function, not only in terms of resolving complaints quickly and effectively to enhance customer experience, but with regards to improving CX strategy across the organisation.
The journey no longer ends with complaint resolution, but with gathering the insight and learnings to inform future approaches and even product development. However, the extent to which complaints can inform strategy is totally dependent on decision-makers having in-depth access to and visibility of the end-to-end complaints management process.
Thankfully, we’re all operating in a digital world, where tools are available to track and qualify all customer interactions and behaviours. This information can then be fed back into the business to drive improvements across the entire organisation. But making sure the right information gets to the right people at the right time is still a challenge, with businesses needing to create robust feedback loops if key decision-makers are to use business data to identify trends, address problems and drive organisational learning.
In this respect, contextualised and personalised follow-up customer surveys are a vital source of information, with tools such as complaint management systems enabling the resulting feedback to be analysed alongside the rest of the customer’s information, adding a new depth of actionable insight into a customer’s journey.
Data is key
The data to be gleaned from complaints can be used to realise cost and efficiency savings across the organisation, as well as helping to optimise CX. What’s needed are the right systems in place to collate this information, reporting it back to the wider business in an accessible, easy-to-understand format. Case handlers, for example, can use the information to help prioritise follow-up actions, taking on board constructive criticism or praise to inform future best practice, all of which contribute to tangible improvements in CX.
For more senior members of the business, the resulting information makes it possible to address any training issues, identifying any problems to be tackled or gaps in knowledge. Additionally, the ability to analyse and examine not only customer feedback but the hard facts surrounding customer complaints, furnishes the business as a whole with a more in-depth understanding of the root causes of complaints, be that product or service-related.
What this provides is a valuable source of information to underpin far-reaching business developments, all of which contribute to those all-important CX improvements.
With the right systems in place, businesses can turn complaints to their advantage. Making full use of the resulting information and data can drive real improvements across the business not just in terms of swift and effective complaint resolutions, but helping to improve products, services and processes, ensuring they’re tailored to meet ever-changing customer expectations.
By owning the entire end-to-end complaints process, leaving behind the ‘resolve and close’ mentality and extending its reach as a key business function, decision-makers can use it as an opportunity to take their customer experience to the next level, with complaint management becoming a crucial business differentiator in an increasingly competitive marketplace.