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R100 BLOG: CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS & REDRESS – What is EXCELLENT practice when it comes to looking out for your customers?

Joined by businesses, consumer rights organisations and even a professional complainer, Responsible 100 held a roundtable on 15 November 2017 in an attempt to get to grips with what makes for POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT practice on handling complaints.

Some key ideas emerged on what really makes a business EXCELLENT when things go wrong…

An EXCELLENT business empowers the staff who first hear the complaint to offer some sort of redress straight away. It has empathetic, supportive staff who can recognise that the business hasn’t performed at its best. With that simple initial response, straight away the business makes a significant step towards remedying the issue. When frontline staff don’t have to go off and check with their manager, customers receive smoother service.

An EXCELLENT business supports vulnerable customers, including those who are not aware of their vulnerability. For instance, a leading financial services company anticipate that their customers may have undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. Staff receive training on how to support such customers.

An EXCELLENT business can seamlessly put a vulnerable customer into a different complaints track, and support them so they get the most out of the process. Receiving a poorly constructed letter from a customer might lead an EXCELLENT company to recognise that it may be best to establish communication with this customer over the phone. Organisations need a holistic understanding of vulnerability - recognising that even the most resilient customer may be vulnerable in specific circumstances.

An EXCELLENT business makes it easy to complain - they put complaints templates on their website, they tell customers exactly what information is needed to complain and they contact the customers who don’t yet know they’ve been treated unfairly or received substandard service. Some businesses use behavioural economics approaches to work out how to effectively get in touch with customers. Sending just one letter may not be enough - a business should work towards alerting the customer in the most effective way.

In some cases, an EXCELLENT business may be able to auto-compensate customers without the customer needing to act. A business’s ability to do this depends on their product, and on the details they hold. For example, banks are frequently able to identify their own errors and could put money back into a customer’s account if it was taken in error. It was argued that, similarly, airlines could and should provide automatic redress without customers needing to contact them first.

It’s not good enough for companies to claim they are obliged to follow bureaucratic, procedural norms and make customers jump through hoops in order to be compensated. Instead the best companies are proactive and attentive to each customer’s individual needs.

Do you agree? Are we setting the bar too high? Get in touch to join the discussion.

Employee Engagement Newsletter

Our examination of workplace issues continues in November with the Employee Engagement roundtable. We will be discussing the ways businesses can get this right, for both themselves and their staff, and what EXCELLENT, GOOD, OKAY and POOR practice looks like. See the full newsletter here.

L&G Thought Leadership Guest Blog: Why all responsible businesses need "critical friends"

Every month for the past 3 years, the Responsible 100 network has quietly but effectively brought together micro businesses, SMEs and some of the world’s largest corporations with leading campaign groups, NGOs, trade bodies, government and regulators. These “critical friend” sessions are really changing the way that business operates one meeting at a time. Read the full blog here.

Blog for The Crowd: Are we entering the responsible tax era?

Responsible 100's shortest question is this: Is your business transparent on tax? As we explain in our guest blog, any business can answer this question. Any business can benchmark their performance as POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT in so doing. Any business can publish its answer and R100 score for anyone to view, scrutinise and comment on via this website. Read more about our methodology and the reasons for being open and honest on tax on The Crowd website.

Email Newsletter

Looking forward to an exciting year ahead. Looking back on some highlights from 2014. Read the full email newsletter here. And watch the video clip of highlights from our Good Deals debate: