Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 11, 2019
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4min319

The 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards have taken place in London, celebrating the people and  initiatives behind some of the best customer service operations in Britain.

Hosted by Awards International – holders of an Independent Awards Standards Council Gold Trust Mark – the event saw hundreds gather at the Park Plaza Riverbank hotel last Friday, when teams of finalists made presentations to an expert panel of judges throughout the day.

Finalists were competing to secure Gold and Silver titles across 18 categories, with one Overall Winner also named for their high score at the event, which this year was sponsored by Aptean and Ecosheme, and partnered by Resolver, Henley Business School’s Henley Centre for Customer Management, and The Malcolm McDonald Academy.

Following a gala lunch, the 2019 Overall Winner title was awarded to outsourcing services firm Firstsource, which claimed Gold in the Customer Insight Strategy category. The victory built on the success of the company in last year’s awards, when along with mobile network giffgaff it won Best Personal Entertainment & Telecoms.

Other big winners this year were banking giants HSBC, which won an incredible four Gold category titles, and United Utilities, which won three Gold titles, including the highly coveted Complaint Handling Leader of the Year award for their Head of Service Recovery, Sally Ainsworth.

The 2019 roll of honour also included Wessex Water in partnership with The First Word, which won in the Best Complaint Handling Training category; One Vision Housing, which claimed Gold for Best Use of Customers’ Insight and Feedback; and Capita, whose team walked away with the Customer Relations & Remediation award.

Speaking afterwards, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “What an event this has been – we are incredibly fortunate to have such a vantage point on the high standard of complaint handling services in the UK.

“So many organisations are ensuring they have a robust complaints procedure at the heart of their structure, and these awards not only celebrate the best initiatives behind that, but they also allow representatives from all of these wonderful companies to come together and inspire each other, share best practice, and ensure complaint handling continues to go from strength to strength and remains central to a quality service.”

“On behalf of Awards International I would like to offer a huge congratulations to all of our winners, and I want to thank all of our finalists for coming and competing in what is now one of the most important events in the UK’s customer service calendar.”

 

 

 

 

 


Will ArcherWill ArcherMarch 7, 2019
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6min357

So, you have an effective complaints procedure in place; you are engaging with customers, finding problems and working through solutions, but just one important question remains: “How well are we doing?”

There is, of course, one clear sign of an effective complaints procedure, and that is a happy customer. Yet it can be a bit more complex than that. The typical reward for good complaint handling is increased sales and improved customer retention.

However, it is not always apparent whether these factors are down to your complaint handling alone. So how can we reliably measure success?

One possible measure is reputation. For the last three years, the UK Complaint Handling Awards has sought to recognise organisations that have made a success of their complaints procedure. The event is hosted by Awards International, and for many companies that have received such an award, industry acknowledgement is a reliable mark of success. The results can also be surprising.

“It’s interesting, if not ironic, that when it comes to winning awards, the most competitive industry sectors are also often the most complained about sectors,” explains Donna O’Toole, CEO of awards consultancy August.

“The rail networks, banks, loan providers, insurance companies, telecoms, and utility providers that the public so often love to hate are also the businesses leading the way in transforming their complaints handling processes – and in turn, improving the overall Customer Experience.”

Donna explains that in recent years there has been a rise in businesses realising the long-term value of how they handle customer complaints in the short-term. When shortlisting companies for the awards, successful companies are typically those that demonstrate transparency, better communication strategies, and have implemented innovative tools to help employees respond faster and more effectively.

Industry peer recognition is a valuable indicator of success but there is also a data-driven method of measuring complaints performance.

The Resolver platform is constantly monitoring user feedback throughout the complaints process. It does this by asking users to rate their experience at each stage of the complaint, thus enabling the data team to generate a score on how effective each company, and each sector, is in complaints handling. As with the awards, the results are not always what one would expect.

“It is really interesting because sometimes a lot of the things are counter-intuitive,” says Michael Hill, Resolver’s lead complaints management consultant.

“Sometimes people will give a company a high satisfaction score, despite the fact they have not achieved full resolution of their complaint.”

This highlights the value that customers place in being able to actually express what is really upsetting them. People are more likely to feel better if they have had, at the very least, a fair hearing or, at best, feel they have been treated fairly after going through the process.

On the other end of the scale, Michael notes, there are customers who have been very upset with their experience despite getting their complaint resolved. This is either because they still feel their complaints have not been listened to, or that the company did not follow up.

“We get quite a few companies that have failed to pay out compensation, having agreed to pay, or just take too long to deliver on their promises,” Michael explains.

“Businesses get right up to the end of the line, and technically everyone should be walking away happy, but people are still dissatisfied. It can get complex.”

When it comes to which sectors perform well by user satisfaction, it is usually those industries with a strong regulator or a free escalation service, such as an ombudsman. This is often because it inspires more confidence in the consumer that their issue will be resolved. Again, these can often be the industries that get the most complaints, such as financial services. On the other hand, you have sectors like retail where there is no established ombudsman or regulator, meaning many customers are left feeling very frustrated.

Having a high volume of complaints doesn’t necessarily mean a business is getting things wrong. It is the satisfaction score that matters. Michaels notes that the best-performing companies are those which have strong lines of communication with the public and are quick to respond and engage with customers when a complaint is received, regardless of complaint volume or, in some cases, eventual outcome.

Michael adds: “We would say any business that encourages complaints is going to see more coming through the door, but this is simply better visibility of the problems caused for customers. If they resolve them quickly and effectively, then they will keep their customers. If they don’t, customers will vote with their feet.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 15, 2019
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3min406

UK Complaint Handling Awards winner NewDay is undergoing a new Voice of Customer (VoC) transformation with the help of crowdsourcing service providers Limitless.

The credit card firm, which was named Overall Winner in last year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards in London, is using  Limitless’ soon to be launched Crowd Feedback solution to easily capture valuable customer feedback and drive key product improvement.

NewDay has over 5 million customers across the UK, and is inviting them to enrol on the Limitless app. Customers are tasked with conducting tests on a range of products and then provide feedback, in exchange for cash rewards. All feedback is channelled to NewDay’s customer support and product teams to accelerate service improvements and generate fresh ideas for new product development.

The VoC programme was launched with NewDay customers using Aqua and Amazon MasterCard credit cards. Both cohorts are providing vital feedback that is fuelling product and process changes.

Francesca Rea, Director of Customer Service and Service Delivery at NewDay, said: “Our company vision is to help people be better with credit. We put our customers at the heart of whatever we do, and the Ambassador programme is very much in the spirit of what we believe in. We’re delighted that this has opened new avenues for us to connect with and reward our most engaged customers.”

 “As a business, we are focused on delivering innovative credit products; timely customer feedback is critical as it accelerates our speed to market and allows us to stay ahead of competition. We will continue to work with Limitless to explore new ways of capitalising on the knowledge, experience and brand passion of our customers to improve our service offerings for everyone.”

 




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