Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Empowering Contact Centers to Handle Little Complaints Before They Become Big Problems

August 08, 2013

While most companies would like to imagine they give their customers no cause for complaint, we live in the real world, and complaints, whether justified or unjustified, are inevitable. For the recipients of most of the complaints – the contact center – handling those objections and negative opinions is simply part of the job. It’s how a contact center handles complaints that will determine whether dissatisfied customers stay or ultimately depart for the competition.

As a result, every successful contact center should have an official complaints handling process in place to ensure that a small complaint doesn’t turn into a larger one, with customers aggravated that their objections aren’t being taken seriously.

A recent article in the business section of Scotland’s Caledonian Mercury lists some best practices for contact center operations, and many of them pertain to complaint handling, offering some wisdom to contact centers looking to establish complaints best practices.

One of the best tips involves empowering contact center agents to mitigate small problems themselves before they get too large. When agents work entirely inside rigid scripts, with a prepackaged arsenal of tools to handle complaints, their hands are often tied when it comes to coming up with real solutions. Contact center agents who can use their own initiative to offer small discounts or free shipping, for example, can quickly calm down an irate customer and keep the issue from escalating up the management chain. 

Image via Shutterstock

Ensure that agents know to avoid using negative language such as, “This is the first time anyone has complained about this.” It’s unproductive and will likely anger the customer. Voice analytics can go a long way toward quickly flagging problematic calls for managers, as these solutions can sense voice stress, four-letter words and competitors’ names, alerting managers that an agent is on a complaint call.

Since complaints don’t always come in by telephone, contact centers should have a way to monitor all complaints, even those that come in via e-mail or social media. Customers are increasingly using the latter to complain, and if your company misses these complaints, it’s certain that the complainer’s 500 friends won’t. Today, social media monitoring is becoming a must for any company that wishes to stay in business. When it comes to e-mail, it’s a good idea to scan incoming e-mail for key words and phrases that indicate a complaint, and fast-track those communications to someone equipped to handle them.

Finally, it’s a good idea to spell out both your customer service goals and operations to customers in advance, so there are no misunderstandings to cope with in the first place. Ensure that customers always have a way to contact you – hiding your information from customers in the hopes they won’t call has never worked for a company in the history of business – and they know how and when to expect a response.

While no one will ever build a complaints-proof business, by being prepared and having a plan to deal with complaints before they escalate into big issues that will lose you customers, you can keep the complaints down to a dull roar.