If you work with people, sell a product, or provide a service, you likely deal with complaints. Those complaints can take many forms: while most companies have to manage complaints of some kind, certain businesses—like healthcare institutions, municipalities, schools, financial services companies, restaurants, and retailers—also must consider how failing to properly handle a complaint could potentially damage their reputation or even create liability due to compromised compliance.
The trick is to recognize the extent to which your business may have to deal with complaints on a regular basis and then implement complaint management early on. This is especially critical if you serve external customers and your reputation or compliance, in part, relies on making customers happy or keeping them safe.
6 examples of complaint management
When it comes to complaints, emotions can run rampant. Complaint handling requires respect, promptness, and objectiveness from the moment of submission to the resolution. Below, we talk about six segments where complaint management plays a major role in making sure customers are happy and businesses are in compliance.
1. Financial Services Complaints
Within the last few years, complaints in the financial realm escalated to the point that the government got involved. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) exists for customers to file complaints against financial services companies unable or unwilling to resolve their complaints. According to the CFPB website, as of January 2016, the CFPB has handled over 800,000 complaints.
Organizations must be open to receiving and responding to complaints in a timely manner, and the best way to do this is through developing a distinct complaint management process. Complaint management software solutions help organizations implement processes and expedite solutions, preventing the need for customers to escalate their complaints to the CFPB.
Related blog post: Issuetrak for Finance
2. Resolving Technology & Software Complaints
If you’re a software company, it could be that your product isn’t functioning as intended or users can’t access the system when they need it. Documentation may not match up properly. Maybe a customer has had a disagreement with a staff member.
These complaints aren’t only valid, but also typical. And, if software users—whether internal or external customers—are frustrated with a product, this frustration can leave a lasting impression, especially if their complaint isn’t addressed in a timely manner. Leaving complaints unresolved for too long hurts business and customer relationships.
3. Tracking HR or Harassment Complaints
Harassment reports are a common concern for Human Resource departments. Higher education and school systems are two types of organizations that must carefully handle harassment complaints against staff, faculty, and other students. Even bullying concerns could be considered behavioral complaints.
Effectively managing these complaints starts with implementing a safe, protected, and private mechanism and process for victims to report harassment. These types of complaints, more than any other, require tact, empathy, and understanding in their resolution.
4. Handling Patient & Hospital Incident Management
In healthcare, patient complaint and incident management often involves fielding concerns from patients or their family members. It could be something as minor as a housekeeping need or something as severe as an error in medication. Internal staff may need to report errors and malfunctions with equipment.
Incidents related to safety or hazardous conditions reflect another kind of concern typical of a healthcare environment. Between patients, their families, visitors and staff, a complaint may come in from any source, and healthcare institutions must provide an accessible, secure way for these individuals to submit issues -- or face consequences.
Related blog post: 5 Common Patient Complaints in Healthcare
5. Managing School Transportation Complaints
If you work for a school transportation department, you know it's essential to have a way for parents to voice concerns and make complaints about bus matters, from route configuration to driver behavior.
Outside of parent concerns, other sources of complaints could come from faculty, local citizens, or the students themselves. All require mechanisms for resolution. And, in some cases, neglecting to follow through on tracking and resolving a complaint not only results in frustration, but could put students at risk and place a school at risk for being out of compliance.
Related blog post: A Better Way to Manage School Transportation Feedback
6. Addressing Restaurant Complaints
“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” “My waiter was rude!” “My favorite entrée isn’t available!”
You’re no doubt familiar with these types of complaints if you’ve ever waited tables or managed a restaurant. Restaurants frequently have comment cards or “how’d we do?” surveys that encourage both positive and negative feedback. In a time when unhappy customers can quickly take to sites like Yelp, Twitter and other forms of social media to denounce their poor experiences, providing an easy way for patrons to provide direct feedback is essential.
Related blog post: 5 Common Customer Complaints in Food Service
why you need a solid process for handling complaints
With complaints coming in from a variety of sources, your organization needs a complaint management process that keeps the submitter in the loop. Basic complaint management normally includes a timely acknowledgement, a process towards resolution, and a final outcome that benefits everyone.
But the complaint resolution process often involves more than just resolving a single complaint. It may mean taking steps to make sure the same problem never happens again. Software companies patch bugs in their software. Manufacturing companies issue product recalls. And, in the case of harassment complaints, it may mean disciplinary action, termination of employment, or even potential legal ramifications.
All of these involve mechanisms for collecting and tracking complaints and informing customers of the progress toward resolution -- as well as preventing future complaints. Above all, communication with the person that made the complaint is critical.
How many times have you had a complaint that wasn’t acknowledged?
In the eyes of the people making the complaints, their complaints are always valid. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a general acknowledgement or an acknowledgement along with a final resolution. Other times, there may need to be multiple communication points along the way to resolution.
what’s your complaint management process?
Some companies handle complaints through emails. Others take phone calls, use social media, or implement website pages as mechanisms to submit complaints. Other companies, however, have discovered that using a software application is the most surefire way of tracking complaints from submission to resolution. This also helps with identifying trends, preventing future complaints, and maintaining compliance.
Want to learn more about what a dedicated software solution can do for your team’s complaint management process? Our article about the benefits of complaint management software will walk you through the basics.