The Customer Complaint System
Recently, I heard someone promoting a Customer Complaint System for businesses, meant to “resolve complaint issues in an expedited manner.” Sounds reasonable!
You might think, since I promote business systemization, that a customer complaint system would be right up my alley. However, before jumping in and implementing any new system for a business, I’ve learned that it needs to be WELL-considered!
It has always puzzled me that the airlines, for instance, will spend millions on systems to get lost luggage back to passengers—no matter where they are—yet, their rate of lost luggage is often so high, they seem to lack systems to address the problem of losing it in the FIRST place!
Every day, the airlines have fleets of vans shuttling back and forth to hotels, residents and businesses in order to return lost or misplaced luggage as quickly as possible. These vans are manned, I feel certain, with good folks making good salaries; also good benefits. In the meantime, the vehicles have to be parked, maintained, licensed, insured and purchased/replaced on a regular basis.
Now, if the owner of certain misplaced luggage has gone on to their next stop before the van can catch up with them (due to more bottlenecks or other inadequate systems), the Airline will then return the luggage to the airport, and schedule and fly the luggage to the next known destination. Again, they will send out a delivery van, in hopes the owner will still be there by the time the van arrives. Such luggage could end up in this loop for several weeks, racking up more cost, and more mileage than its owner!
If the owner cannot be found, the airline will log and store the luggage for a certain amount of time (I assume, required by law), and if time expires before it's claimed, another system would have to kick in, in order to dispose of the bags and their contents altogether. Of course, storing and disposing of luggage also requires more personnel with more benefits. Sound complicated? It is!
How do I know anything about this luggage system? It happened to my wife, while visiting a relative in Boston, a while back.
On landing, Susan discovered her luggage had not arrived on the same plane, but she was assured it would be delivered “tomorrow.”
As it went, for three days—while wearing the same, wilting yellow dress—Susan spoke with several nice airline CSR’s, receiving always nice apologies. The night before Susan was to return home, still in yellow, Susan was having a farewell, family dinner at a local restaurant when her cell phone rang.
“We went to your relative’s house, but they said you were out, so we didn’t know where to deliver your things.” (Hmm! Could have left it THERE maybe?)
“But, if you’ll wait where you are, I’ll bring it right over!” So, the airline courier delivered all of Susan’s luggage to the restaurant.
“How often do you have to do this?" Susan asked the courier.
"Oh, we deliver at least 250 pieces of lost luggage daily,” came the answer.
Surely, there’s a system that could fix that...However, I AM NOT A FAN OF SYSTEMS JUST FOR SYSTEMS SAKE. Why? Unnecessary systems cost money.
Yes, the complaint of the customer should be documented and then resolved quickly. However, once resolved, the complaint should NOT be forgotten. The important thing would be, to determine the ROOT CAUSE of the problem—WHY the luggage was lost in the first place—so it might not happen again.
Next, the current system should be improved, or a new system implemented. This would ensure that the reason the luggage was lost would be addressed and eliminated for good—thereby, REDUCING the amount of customer complaints.
We have a system in our printing company for finding, documenting, measuring and eliminating ALL customer complaints—PLUS errors, bottlenecks, vender errors, miscommunications, etc. We call it: The System Buster Eliminator.
This loop of continual improvement for eliminating any and all customer complaints also allows a company to reduce costs, by NOT having to maintain inadequate and poorly written systems.
So...how do YOU handle customer or other complaints in YOUR business?
No, really—I’d appreciate hearing about that!
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.