Complaints Handling and the Increasing Sophistication of Customers


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Is there was a general trend toward customer sophistication in making complaints and in understanding the real root causes of the problem? I recently read a blog post by Rosa Dominguez which outlined some issues she was having with ING Direct in Spain (Spanish version here). Two things struck me: 1) the sophistication of the complaint and 2) the knowledge she had of customer experience principles.

Rosa’s complaint in a nutshell is that ING Direct did not activate an account that she has with them. She provides ING Direct these tips:

  • Be transparent and open with communication
  • Online banking = Online communication. It makes no sense that the first channel of communication for an online bank is the phone
  • Offer answers/ solutions within a reasonable time. Online banking customers expect immediate or near-immediate solutions
  • If the IT system fails, you should be the 1st to know and be proactive. Anticipation is your advantage and what the customer expects.

Customers are becoming increasingly self aware of their own expectations and importantly they are understanding that it is not the front line alone that is often not the cause of the problem. As Rosa clearly states in her complaint “these comments have nothing to do with your staff, at least not with the ones the client deals with directly. They are good professionals. “

A quick perusal of blog complaints does show a growing sophistication among customers. This trend is all the more significant given that complaints handling is ultimate what matters in complaints. That is the way the complaint is handled is much more important that the outcome of the resolution process. We reported on this research in “The Customer Complaints X-ray“.

What could all of this mean?

  • Customers are gaining in their ability to see through issues to their potential root causes
  • Businesses which treat complaints handling as a front line only experience will miss the mark
  • The best people to deal with certain complaints may not be the front line. That is, the front line need to move deeper into the organisation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Qaalfa Dibeehi
Qaalfa Dibeehi is the author of "Achieving Customer Experience Excellence" and "Customer Experience Future Trends and Insights". He has 20+ years experience in the customer experience related space with particular emphasis on organisations that have a dual commercial and social/community responsibility. He is Non-Executive Director at Emerge. Previously, he was Chief Operating and Consulting Officer at Beyond Philosophy and Director at Fulcrum Analytics. He has an MBA from NYU and three other Masters Degrees from City U. of New York in Statistics, Psychology and Health Care Administration.


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