Even the most customer-focussed organisation is likely to get the occasional complaint. Even the best managed organisations occasionally make mistakes, and those firms that serve a high volume of customers typically have a full-time team that deals with issues that have escalated into a formal complaint.
Customer complaints can be a source of significant insight. In some cases, complaints point towards inefficiencies that have emerged in existing business processes. Perhaps a handover between departments is not working well as there is ambiguity over the roles of each team. Identifying this is valuable—it isn’t a one-off incident, and it is likely that many customers will receive poor service until it is resolved. It might also identify issues where training is required—perhaps a member of staff in a call centre did not record a vital piece of information that a customer gave them. This might be because the member of staff genuinely didn’t know the significance—and if they don’t receive this constructive feedback (and the relevant training) they will likely make the same mistake time and time again, leading to even more displeased customers.
Analysis of complaints can also help determine where customer expectations have changed (or are changing). In the past, it might have been considered perfectly acceptable for a courier firm to offer a delivery window of ‘8am to 6pm’. Yet if its competitors now offer 1 hour slots, this will change the tacit expectation in the market. This will filter through into the complaints that are received. Of course, the firm ought to have been looking at the external competitive environment anyway, but complaints sometimes highlight things that are outside of the radar.