A Good Morning for Complaints

It’s 8.30pm. I’m sitting in my hotel room looking for inspiration for this blog. And then the phone rings.

It’s BBC Radio Scotland wondering if I’d do an interview on customer service because they’ve just been handed a report saying people are more likely to complain now than ever before. The actual number of problems consumers face when buying goods and services had fallen significantly over the last 5 years, but is now creeping back up. But more and more complaints are focusing on staff attitude and competence.

Just as a couple of examples; last year the financial ombudsman saw a 28% increase in complaints, there was a 22% rise in care service complaints, complaints about landlords in England rose by over a quarter and NHS Scotland saw a 15% hike in written complaints, the largest increase since the revision of the NHS complaints procedure in 2005.

There’s no real news here, until you start to read the rhetoric about what to do about it. It’s all the same stuff (big yawn) ‘Empower the people’, ‘give them better training’ and ‘more off-shoring’ is just some of the rubbish that we’ve been hearing for years now. 2013 I suppose will bring more of the same.

And if you’re in the outsourcing industry then you’re really in trouble. Because the market is changing; the mood is to change to a single fee per client for the life of the client. The question then becomes ‘how do we get the customer to not call in?’

The usual thinking is to get the staff to be extra nice and move the customer to less expensive channels. But channel shift only works if the new technology works better than the current method of contact. And if the same design thinking has been used in the new channel as the old one then you’re still in trouble.

The answer is not staff, or outsourcing, or technology. The answer is how you think about how to design your service.

I said yes to the interview with Good Morning Scotland and I you can listen to it here to learn more about the issues and their causes (go on its only 4 minutes long).

Once you’ve listened to the interview you might want to check how your service stacks up and whether it too is a feature of your thinking.

(If you’re not sure how to go about that then I’d suggest our 3-day training course might be a good place to start.)


A Good Morning for Complaints

One thought on “A Good Morning for Complaints

  • 15/01/2013 at 3:45 pm

    I totally agree with your statement about design of the service or the re-design in some cases, but i also have concern that businesses make decisions to reduce cost for the short term rather investing in the long term cost reductions.

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