It is a fact of life that your company, any company, is going to have complaints. It doesn’t make you bad people, it just means that a customer experience didn’t measure up as expected. It doesn’t surprise us that solving issues is often an important driver in a buying decision. Yet it does surprise us how few companies have a good system in place to do this and track it.


Obviously, there are two major components to a complaint: (1) acknowledging what the customer experienced; and (2) resolving the complaint to the customers satisfaction. Many do the first one effectively. Few follow-ups on the second one and fewer yet categorize and track the complaints.


Not all complaints are created equal. If you have been mistakenly double billed, it should take a few minutes for a company to recognize this and offer a quick solution. When we ask our clients how often this happens, we are often told a version of the following: “Customer service doesn’t track those issues. They are given to and handled by Accounts Receivable.” Then, we learn A/R isn’t tracking the frequency of follow-up resolution, finding root cause, and communicating with Sr. Management on a fix. On the other hand, a complaint about an on-time delivery that has greatly impacted a customer’s business is more egregious. This requires a different effort to manage. Do you have the relative processes in place?


One company had no idea that they had complaints on almost 70% of their orders until we asked them to track it. Nor did they know the nature of them. Parts missing? Late delivery? Broken equipment? Etc. When we asked them to review the email complaints to specify the category, they were red faced. They further learned their employees were doing an awful job of rectifying the situations. This was a Titanic hole about to sink their ship.


You can’t fix it if you don’t know its broken. This can be a huge competitive disadvantage that may be costing you sales. A simple tracking process can save you customers and provide you with strong management tools to know what needs fixing. Is it the delivery process making shipments late? Is it inaccurate picking? Is it rude service personnel?


Complaints should be categorized. Processes should be examined when they reach a threshold of acceptable. Metrics should be shared, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is dangerous not to.

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