Basia Szumska-Hare judged at the 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards in London earlier this month.

So, it’s Friday March 8th in London, the sky is blue, the children didn’t complain about getting ready for school, and I didn’t hear any complaints of phantom tummy aches, or reminders that “Mum, my school trousers are itchy!”

In fact, this morning as I pace my way to the tube to head to Victoria, there is simply nothing to complain about… or is there? For today, I am privileged to be a judge at the 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards. I am excited to learn about companies’ strategies for dealing with complaints, and taking people like me and you seriously!

I arrive in London to a swarm of people attending the event; I can see many people looking pensive, excited, and nervous about presenting today. Judges have to spend many hours, often in our own time, dedicated to reading and absorbing the content of the entries and scoring them respectfully online ahead of the event.

For the candidates, however, it’s nerve racking – they have to stand up in front of us scary looking folk and tell us why they believe their company deserves to win.

Before I know it, its 12.30pm and all the entries have been seen by my fellow judges. What I have learned today is that companies are learning to collect data from their customers, but maybe not yet fully understanding how to use that data effectively. I learned that C-Level executives were tasked with calling customers, to understand what it means to be a customer and also understand what it feels like for the person calling the customer.

Time and time again I’m hearing that companies want to make sure the process of dealing with them involves minimal effort, and have success on first call resolution. I also learned that loyal customers – you know the ones, like you and me who keep quiet, spend money unthankfully, and are too time poor to call and complain or fill out a survey – are also being looked at seriously.

I also saw enlightening sparks of thought leadership around empowering agents and teams to deliver stakeholder expectations, allowing the people who answer the calls more authority to resolve complaints and ensure that the voice of the customer is a positive one.

Also, Barnardo’s, the charity partner for the event, spoke at the luncheon once we were all gathered together to see who had won. Listening to the stories and the volunteers makes me think about what more I can do to give back to the community. Watch this space!

In summary – we had many winners, and many entries who I look forward to seeing back next year. It’s a comforting notion to understand that customers are at the heart of what all entrants were aspiring to. Well done to all, and I look forward to seeing you back again!

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