The Golden Age of Complaining

70% of defecting customers say that poor service prompted their decision to leave. The ability to identify at-risk customers – both those who actually complain and those who don’t – is becoming an increasingly important mandate for companies competing in a global environment where individual consumers have never had more information, choices, and power.

There are numerous sources of information online detailing consumer rights and describing how to go about submitting a complaint. And for those less excited about the prospect of form-filling, there are specialist claims management companies to take over the tedious process. This means that the volume of complaints can become unmanageable for even the largest organizations. Take the infamous payment protection insurance scandal in the UK – according to the FSA, the number of complaints to banks and building societies increased by 67% in the first half of 2012, with the total number nearing 3 million.

So how do you come to terms with large complaint volumes? A rather radical approach, described in an article from The Economist, would be to introduce an upfront complaint fee, which would be returned at a later stage, but only to those whose reasons are valid. This would put off the people who complain for the sake of it and opportunists that hope to slip through the system.

While the ‘pay as you complain’ idea is highly controversial and could drastically affect brand perception, it does address a key business challenge, which is how to become smarter at handling customer complaints.  Addressing and pre-empting the drivers of formal complaints through an operational customer feedback solution is something that companies can do today. To help with that, the NICE Fizzback solution generates alerts for negative customer feedback based on a bespoke and flexible set of criteria. By doing this, it is possible to segment dissatisfied customers by important parameters, such as customer value, proximity to contract end, or number of complaints submitted. This makes it easier to successfully prioritise and strategize a company’s customer recovery efforts.

Identifying and resolving the needs of customers in distress before formal complaints both reduces the volume and complexity of costly formalities and generates positive closed-loop customer experiences. Successful issue resolution can even create bigger advocates of a company than those with no cause for frustration. Effective customer recovery and its impact on complaints is a classic example of a proactive over a reactive strategy – and our clients have been able to realize millions of pounds or dollars in saved revenue from its effective application.

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