How does good complaint management work?

How does good complaint management work?

“A company that is totally dedicated to service has only one concern about profits. They are embarrassingly large.” Even then, Henry Ford recognized the importance of good service quality. In many companies, however, there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to complaints management. Searching the website for a hotline number, waiting forever on hold, or waiting days for an email response? Who hasn’t this happened to before? And that doesn’t just affect our satisfaction with the service: we associate our dissatisfaction with the service with the entire company.

Complaints welcome! – Why is good complaint management important?

In many industries, only four percent of all consumers actively speak up if they are not satisfied with products, quality or service or if they have a problem. You think “thank goodness”? Then you are on the wrong track. Rather, these four percent should drive worry lines on your forehead. Because the majority is silent and prefers to look around at the competitor without ever finding out the reason for it.

What is complaint management?

Complaint management (or complaint management) refers to the process or all systematic measures that a company takes in the event of customer complaints or a complaint. The aim is to stabilize endangered customer relationships and prevent dissatisfied customers from migrating to the competition.

At first glance, dissatisfied customers seem annoying because they cost nerves, time and, at first glance, money. At second glance, complaints and complaints hold great opportunities for your company. In the long term, you even save costs – provided your complaint management works.

What are the goals of complaint management?

Basically, the goal of complaint management is to turn a buyer who is dissatisfied with a product or service of your company into a satisfied customer. It has been proven that unhappy customers who initially complain but then have a positive experience with customer service are more loyal than before. Therefore, the two main goals of complaint management are:

1. Complaint handling: Leaving a lasting positive impression on the buyer through good service in precisely the situation in which he is dissatisfied. In particular, the fact that his complaint is processed quickly and in a solution-oriented manner.
2. Performance improvement: to improve your products, services and processes in such a way that there is no reason for complaints or complaints in the future.

The difference between a complaint and a complaint

A complaint is when the customer is upset or dissatisfied because a specific requirement has not been met. In contrast to a customer complaint, a complaint always relates to a product or service and is associated with a legal claim because there is a fault or insufficient service has been provided. Complaints are not handled by all companies, to the displeasure of customers. However, a complaint must be checked and processed, as there is a legal claim here.

What are the advantages of good complaint management?

  • Happy customers, lower costs: Dealing proactively with the concerns of dissatisfied customers increases customer loyalty . In the long run, this is much more cost-effective than constantly investing money in acquiring new customers.
  • Better image: The image of your company is heavily dependent on customer satisfaction. Functioning complaint management strengthens the relationship with your customers and your image.
  • Recommendation rate:Word gets around about good service : example social media: On Facebook & Co., word of praise from customers quickly gets around and makes your company better known in a positive way.However, keep in mind that poor service spreads even faster via social media and can damage your company’s reputation.
  • Product and process improvement Consumers are constantly “testing” your products. A complaint often leads to product optimizations or new product features that make your company more successful in the long term and improve the quality of the product.

What makes good complaint management?

So it pays to handle customer complaints professionally. For this you need a corporate culture that actively promotes the necessary skills in the company and provides the appropriate resources, such as a CRM .


What are the framework conditions for good complaint management?

To ensure that complaints management runs smoothly in your company, you should create certain guidelines and the right framework conditions in advance.


Train your staff

The behavior of the processing staff is often decisive for customer satisfaction with the quality of complaint management. Training, guidelines and incentive systems ensure that your employees respond appropriately to customer complaints. Every employee should be sure what his or her tasks include in order to reduce dissatisfaction. 

Establish organizational framework conditions

Ensure a uniform complaint management process and define fixed procedures for different cases. Decide beforehand whether and which complaints are to be processed decentrally, for example in the local branch, and which are to be processed centrally by a fixed department. You should also define how your complaints management process is linked to other corporate processes and how the department should have rights of influence.

In addition to the quality management standard ISO9001:2000, the standard “ Quality Management – ​​Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines for the Handling of Complaints in Organizations ” (DIN ISO 10002:2010-05) has been published since 2005. The standard contains essential definitions of terms and describes principles, central tasks and specific tools for complaints management in companies.

Establish internal communication channels and responsibilities

A complaint is received, but what happens next? Where should customer complaints be filed? In any case, CRM software that precisely maps and tracks the process is a good choice. A smooth process can only be guaranteed if employees know the distribution of tasks, the nature of the issue as well as interfaces and responsibilities.

What is the difference between direct and indirect complaint management?

Basically, there is a distinction between indirect and direct complaint management: Direct complaint management includes all measures of your company that are visible to the customer. Indirect complaint management, on the other hand, researches the causes of complaints and optimizes services and products so that there is no longer any reason for further customer complaints and complaints.

What is direct complaint management?

Provide points of contact 

This part takes place at the customer level. Make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you – be it via phone, email, contact form, social media or chat. Make it transparent how you can be reached and by when the customer will receive feedback. Automatic confirmations of receipt are sent from a CRM after the e-mail has been received and the ticket has been created.

Create clear responsibilities

An angry customer does not feel like asking his way through and explaining his concerns to various employees until the right contact person is found. Create clear responsibilities to improve customer complaint management. In a CRM system, you can assign specific skills to employees. In this way, tasks and other inquiries are sent directly to the responsible employee.

There are two options here:

On the one hand the push method , in which the responsible employee is proactively informed about the task and a ticket to be processed. The notification can be made directly via the CRM or by e-mail.

On the other hand, there is the pull method , in which the service employee can actively pull a task with the ticket to be processed as part of complaint management.

Basically, “first in, first out” applies here: Customer complaints are processed in the order in which they are received. The CRM system also recognizes critical tickets that have to be prioritized higher, for example due to threats of cancellation. Responses to complaints that are already in progress are also prioritized in order to achieve a faster ticket closing time.

Know the customer history

As already written, it only frustrates customers more and more to describe their problem several times. Therefore, make sure that all phone calls, emails and photos of the defective product, expenses and conversations are stored in the buyer’s history in the CRM. You should have this ready as soon as they contact you or you contact them.

Look for concrete solutions

Exchange, refund, price reduction – you have many options to accommodate the buyer and thus ensure a better mood. Make it your goal to always find a quick solution to the problem. Especially for new employees, a CRM for your complaint management offers a decisive advantage here. Based on some information such as product, area and cause, the system offers solution suggestions from knowledge management.

Keep track of the status of the complaint

Don’t let a dissatisfied customer wait too long for a response when they have a complaint. A CRM makes controlling easier. Here you can sort complaint tickets by status and date. Are you unable to react as quickly as the customer expects of you? A CRM offers you the possibility to automatically send an interim status. This is often enough to reassure the customer and show that their concerns are being dealt with.

Complaints about questions often hang with the customer. In this case, you can use a CRM to automatically send a reminder after a certain period of time.


What is indirect complaint management?

avoid errors

Imagine a customer complains and is waiting for a response from the service team, your sales department doesn’t know about it and contacts them for a sales pitch. In a CRM, every complaint appears across departments in the 360° view of the company or the contact person. In this way you can avoid such mistakes in complaint management.

Use complaints to optimize the process

The data collected in the CRM gives you the ideal overview to identify deficiencies in the process. As a team leader in particular, you have several functions to improve your complaint management process.

  • Select complaint tickets according to various criteria: Which tickets are currently in progress? Which employee processes which ticket?
  • How much time was booked for which complaint/company?
  • Which companies have a particularly large number of complaints or complaints?
  • Ask for feedback: by phone, email or Service Client via the CRM.

Use complaints to improve quality

As previously described, the best “product testers” are ultimately the consumers. So use the feedback you get about customer complaints for your controlling in order to constantly improve the quality of the product or service and thus increase customer satisfaction.

5 questions for your conversation guide for grievance conversations

So much for theory, now for practice. What should a complaint talk look like? For the uniform and smooth processing of complaints, it is advisable to create a conversation guide that guides employees and customers through the conversation. The following five questions can help you with the creation:


How do you open a complaints conversation?

A consistent greeting at every contact guarantees that consumers perceive your company in a uniform way and strengthens the image. Take the customer’s problems seriously. Open questions such as “How can I help you?” invite the caller to describe in detail the reason for his complaint. This gives you valuable feedback for quality management on your products and services. In the opening meeting, you should record basic data such as customer and invoice numbers and store the customer complaint in CRM. Employees can refer to it in further discussions. This saves you time and shows the customer that their concern is already known and taken seriously.

How do you defuse deadlocked situations?

Angry customers often see red and in the heat of the moment change their tone. Here it is often difficult not to meet the caller with frustration or anger. Trained employees are not disturbed by this. You lead the conversation actively instead of reacting angrily yourself. Customers can often be reassured by approval and understanding.

In many cases it can be helpful to explain the cause of the problem.  

What information is important for complaint management?

Targeted inquiries from employees are just as important as understanding listening in complaints management. Angry buyers often describe their problem incompletely or forget important details.

In order to be able to process complaints quickly, employees should ask specific questions about the situation. Prepare a questionnaire for this. At the end of the complaint processing, employees should summarize all the information again and ask the caller to confirm or add to this. This summary is not used for further processing, you are signaling that you have actively listened to the customer.  

What solutions can be offered to the customer in the event of a complaint?

In most cases, the solution comes from the fully collected information. As already mentioned, you can also store the possible solutions in knowledge management in your company’s CRM system, making work easier for new employees in particular.

In addition, the wishes and needs of the customer should be taken into account:

  • Would he like to exchange his product for a new one?
  • Does the customer want to keep the defective product but want a discount?
  • Is he asking for the repair of a faulty item?
  • Or does he want to completely withdraw from the purchase contract?

Once this has been clarified, you should inform the caller about how to proceed: How long will it take to process the request? How and when does the exchange take place? When will the money be refunded? What exactly does he have to do now?

Many customers are also happy about a little gift, such as a give-away, a credit note or a discount on their next purchase. The value of such attention can be determined individually by customer or by the size of the problem. Whether as a gesture of apology or as a reward for loyalty, this is how you can show appreciation.

What is the best way to end a complaint conversation?

Attentive employees ask for further questions at the end of the conversation. If there are no further questions, you can say thank you for the interview and wish you a nice day.

Good complaint management makes your company more successful!

Even if customer complaints are exhausting at first, you can use them in a variety of ways to make your product and your company more successful. A functioning and uncomplicated complaint management not only strengthens your reputation, but also sustainably customer loyalty. You can also use the reports and evaluations of the complaint tickets to improve service and product quality.

The use of a CRM system makes complaint management and controlling easier for you and ensures that this works smoothly, even across different departments.

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