Complaints are an expression of dissatisfaction about an organization’s services or products by the publics [customers]. This would be an action or lack of action about the standard of service or communication deficiencies during or after service. A complaint can be written or oral depending on the convenience of the complainant.
Complaints resolution management is an organization’s mechanism of handling, managing, responding and reporting customers’ complaints .One fact about complaints is that they are inevitable and provide an audit trail. They can be an early warning of failures in service delivery. It is through complaints that your customers will give you a second chance and here an organization has a great opportunity to improve service and reputation.
Complaints if managed well can add value to any organization as it is a measuring scale of how effective your services or products are to your customers .Complaints management is not a substitute for abdicating the responsibility for managing quality and achieving customer satisfaction. Indeed, complaints are important as they are a source of free feedback from your customers about your performance as an organization.
If resolved amicably, complaints indicate that in order to intensify customers` attitude towards giving feedback, organizations should increase the value of a complaint and its perceived likelihood. They should therefore maintain a high degree of politeness towards customers and introduce policies that encourage them to complain directly.
The management and staff should be actively committed to effective and efficient complaints handling procedures. Timeliness in resolving complaints is very necessary. To that end, a complaint should not take too long to handle and the complainant should be regularly updated on the progress being made to resolve it.
Defining the origin of customer complaint in a situation is the single most difficult and important task in managing complaints effectively. If you correctly identify the main cause of a challenge, you can easily find many different approaches to handling customers’ complaints.
For an organization to resolve complaints effectively, there should be a clear complaints handling policy.
The following principles are essential guidance in managing complaints effectively:
a) Visibility: how to complain should be publicized to all customers, through suggestion boxes, feedback notes, signs behind the counters and probably on receipts.
b) Accessibility: it should be available to all complaints, consider language, location and large print in order not to disadvantage any of your customer. Complaint handling process should be free of charge for complaints.
c) Responsiveness: receipt of each complaint should be acknowledged to the complainant immediately, always keep the complainant informed through the complaint process.
d) Confidentiality: personal information will only be available where needed. For the resolution of the complaints, you should protect from disclosure without the customer’s explicit consent.
e) Objectivity: complaints should all be addressed in unbiased and equal manner (one should not be defensive).
f) Accountability for reporting on complaint action should be clearly established.
g) Continuous improvement of products and services by the organization should be of paramount importance and proper complaints handling mechanism should therefore feed further improvements.
Finally complaints if not well managed can be costly to an organization and reflect badly on its image. Learning from them is therefore important.
The writer is the Senior Corporate Communications Officer – National Industrial Training Authority (NITA)