Complaint handling

Sarah Cook
The Stairway Consultancy

Steve Macaulay
Cranfield School of Management

Research in the UK by the Institute of Customer Service reveals a rising customer trend: around 75% of customers are now prepared to complain, up from 50% a decade ago.

The case for effective complaint handling is clear-cut: it can drive business improvement, improve internal communications and increase operational efficiency. This in turn leads to fewer dissatisfied customers, increased customer loyalty and greater confidence in the brand. Handling complaints well is one way of ensuring exceptional customer loyalty.

Only a minority of customers who are dissatisfied do in fact complain to the organisation, the rest spread the poison around through unchallenged criticism. If you make customers unhappy, they can go online and tell thousands of friends. Yet in a disturbingly large number of cases, these messages do not get translated into corrective action by organisations.