Effective complaints handling

In the early days of lockdown, consumers displayed a great amount of patience and were sympathetic to delays in the handling of complaints given the serious practicalities that many firms faced at the start of the pandemic.

However, as time passes, consumers are no longer prepared to wait and expect firms to be responsive and prompt in dealing with their complaints. Effective complaint handling is therefore paramount at this time. Expectations are extremely high as consumers also face mounting financial and other serious pressures themselves, many of which may now mean they fall into the vulnerable category.

Earlier this month, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) published guidance stressing that complaint handling remains an “important function” and that they “do not expect any reduction in the quality of firms’ complaint handling.”

Even before COVID-19, the gap between customer expectations and what they experienced, in reality, was far too high. According to research by Huntswood, pre-COVID-19, quick resolution was highlighted as one of the most important factors in the complaints process, with 76% expecting a complaint to be resolved at the first point of contact. Yet, only 20% of consumers in the survey received this level of service. And, where the complaint was not resolved initially, the research showed that companies were taking on average 33 days to close the complaint.

Companies need to have a core strategy for effective complaint handling, and as part of that, their aim should be to win hearts and minds and embrace complainants. Delivering the right outcome quickly creates increased affinity and loyalty, as supported by the research which showed 96% of companies believed that complainants can be turned into brand advocates.

As lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, companies must respond to consumer complaints in a quick, fair, and holistic manner. Capacity may need to be adjusted to tackle backlogs and meet changing customer service demand patterns, including prioritisation of vulnerable contacts.

Companies may also need to consider interim measures to manage growing BAU volumes such as leveraging self-serve options, collaborative tools and using external support from specialist companies to help with backlogs and overflow capability.

We can help advise you on fully branded ‘white label’ complaint handling solutions on an interim or longer-term basis. QASSS are award-winning and industry-leading for speed of resolution, with in-depth technical expertise in the home improvement and renewable energy sectors.

Our bespoke complaint handling and alternative dispute resolution services can help you save time, money and avoid reputational damage. To find out how we can help, contact Laura Holmes, Service Delivery Manager on 0330 335 3354 or email l.holmes@qasss.co.uk