Over the last year, many companies have been given a bit of a free pass when it comes to customer service and complaint handling. However, consumer patience is now starting to wear thin. The latest Institute of Customer Service survey shows that overall customer satisfaction is at 76.8/100 – the lowest it has been since 2015!
Consumers have of course understood many companies have experienced operational issues during the pandemic, but they now expect customer service to be fully back to normal.
Companies can also no longer ignore the importance of personal interaction when it comes to complaint handling, particularly in the home improvement and renewables sector.
The rise of digital technology enabling improved customer experience brings huge benefits, particularly around resource and response. However, when it comes to complaints, companies should not underestimate the importance of customers being able to speak directly to empathetic and knowledgeable staff to get their issues resolved quickly.
The importance of excellent complaint handling
Customer satisfaction and loyalty are intrinsically linked to business performance; therefore, companies must ensure excellent customer service, including complaint handling, is at the forefront of their strategy in 2021 and beyond.
With the rise of social media, online reviews have now become a non-negotiable part of local and national business. 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses and 22% are driven away by just 1 negative review!
Further, a complaining customer is better than a lost customer. Not only do you have the chance to respond and manage the complaint (and online review), but you can also turn even the most unhappy customers into brand advocates who will help spread the word and promote your business.
If you want to understand more about the true cost of unhappy customers to your business, download our complaint cost calculator. Just input your business metrics, and the calculator will show the impact on your company’s revenue and margin.
So, what do firms need to do to be able to deliver excellence when it comes to handling complaints?
Here are 5 quick tips:
1.Driving excellence in complaint handling should be a key part of your business strategy
This includes ensuring that overall accountability lies at Board level or directly with the owner. Ensure you develop and implement a strategic plan which includes what excellent complaint handling ‘looks like’, policies, procedures, resourcing, analysis, and monitoring.
2. Educate all employees
This includes management and employees that do not necessarily deal with frontline complaints. By implementing an ongoing training programme, you are also demonstrating that consumer complaints are a key priority for the business.
With the pandemic, there has also been a rise in the number of people falling into the ‘vulnerable’ category, therefore ensure training includes how to identify and deal with vulnerable customers.
3. Do not underestimate the importance of speed, knowledge, and human interaction
Customers need human contact, empathy, and quick resolution, especially for issues that are complex or personally important. Ensure there is always the opportunity to speak to a knowledgeable person at the first point of contact or when needed along the customer journey. Companies with a ‘human touch’ and focus on speed are more likely to increase and retain a larger number of customers.
4. Ensure you have a process for recording, monitoring, analysing, and measuring customer complaints and feedback
All feedback is invaluable and these insights will help you improve processes, products, services, and your reputation. This should include all customer feedback channels and all customer interactions. Quality monitoring will help develop your team and identify any gaps in skills or training requirements.
Include root cause analysis which will help you identify recurring problems, put preventative action in place, and ultimately, help improve outcomes,
5. Share feedback with all employees
Not only does having a process for ongoing feedback support a customer-centric culture and keep customer service front-of-mind, but it also helps improve business processes, consistency of service and can identify areas for product development or training.
Having a well-managed complaints process and customer service focus will help drive trust, loyalty, continuous improvement, and growth.
How QASSS can help
At QASSS, we specialise in providing bespoke complaint handling solutions for home improvement and renewable energy companies. We have in-depth experience in the sector, delivering quick resolutions, driving better customer outcomes and experiences, and helping protect and improve the reputation of our clients.
If you’d like to find out more about outsourced complaint handling, contact us online or call 0161 676 0919.