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Covering All The Bases – Omnichannel Complaint Handling

Covering All The Bases – Omnichannel Complaint Handling

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Covering All The Bases – Omnichannel Complaint Handling

Feb 16, 2022

Jack Jones
A person checking their email on a cell phone.

We’re living in an age of multichannel communications. Email, social media, messaging apps, good old pen and paper, the telephone—the choices are ever-expanding and seemingly never ending. Businesses are recognising the plethora of options available and opening up communications channels to ensure customers can communicate easily with them, in line with personal preferences.

But what about complaints? This multichannel approach isn’t quite so commonplace when it comes to complaints, with many businesses still insisting that customers use certain channels to air their grievances. This approach really isn’t fit for purpose anymore, running the risk of making already disgruntled customers even more unhappy when they discover that they can’t use their preferred method of communication. Also, it can mean that important complaints are missed, left unresolved with the potential to lead to not only extremely dissatisfied customers, but trouble with the regulators too.

At the crux of the issue is that regardless of how complaints come into a business, they need to be treated in the same way, addressed, processed and tracked with a view to achieving quality outcomes for everyone involved. So how can you ensure this is the case with your business?

Multichannel Into Omnichannel

Obviously, it’s not a straightforward issue and there’s a real need to transform multichannel complaint handling into omnichannel complaint handling. Rather than complaints being dealt with according to how they enter the business, for example, by the social media team when it comes to Facebook complaints, what you need instead is a truly joined up complaint handling function.

A great many organisations have different teams dealing with social media and complaint handling, which then might also be split further, such as into telephone and email teams. There’s clearly an argument for you to amalgamate teams, with everyone trained to work across all channels, dealing with complaints alongside other non-complaint related communications.  There is also an argument against, which would point to the very different skillsets required to respond to customer queries and other customer service issues, compared to those skills needed to ensure complaints excellence.

Another option is for all complaints, however they are received, to be managed by a single, centralised complaints team. This approach is highly dependent on all customer service employees, or anyone who has any interaction with customers for that matter, being able to readily identify complaints. Training here is key. Perhaps cascade the extensive knowledge and experience of the core complaint handling team throughout the rest of your organisation, board-level included, helping your entire business to fully understand the many forms a complaint can take.

Sharing Information Across the Complaints Function

To achieve truly omnichannel complaint handling, what’s needed is the seamless sharing of information right across your customer complaint journey. So, for example, when dealing with a customer complaint that comes in via telephone, your complaint handler needs to know if the customer has also registered a complaint via another channel. It’s this access to accurate and comprehensive customer information that’s key to robust omnichannel complaint handling.

Tools go hand-in-hand with good training when it comes to ensuring robust and effective complaint handling across your business. The right complaint management system can provide the ability to record, process and track every complaint that comes in, recording every interaction the customer has with your company for the duration of their end-to-end complaint journey. What this means is your complaint handlers are dealing with a single version of the truth at all times, well-equipped with the knowledge of all complaint-related past interactions or communications that a particular customer has had with your business. Go one step further, and integration with your CRM system, for example, will furnish the complaint handler with even more helpful detail about the individual to help personalise the customer journey.

At the same time, the right complaint management system will make use of intelligent workflows, helping to steer complaint handlers towards the best course of action for a particular complaint. This results in a consistent approach to complaint handling, with in-built checks and balances to ensure all complaints, regardless of how they are initially communicated, are dealt with fairly and effectively, making for a transparent continuity and consistency of complaint handling right across your organisation.

As more communications channels are opening up, businesses need to be mindful that complaints functions mirror the multiple channels through which customers are choosing to interact. For a consistent, excellent customer experience, irrespective of how complaints are made, an omnichannel approach to complaint handling is required. The right combination of tools and training is the key to laying a solid foundation for complaints excellence every time.

For more information on the role that Aptean’s complaint management system can play in building your omnichannel complaints function, contact us today.

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