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Complaints management 2.0: dealing with unhappy customers when everybody has an audience

Canhoto, A. I. and Clark, M., (2011) Complaints management 2.0: dealing with unhappy customers when everybody has an audience. Report. Henley Centre for Customer Management

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This report examines customer complaint management practices in an era where customers expect instant action from companies and, if service does not meet their expectations, they do not hesitate to voice their disappointment in both public and private arenas. This research includes an extensive literature review of both academic and practitioner sources in order to identify best practice for complaint management in the business to consumer environment. Four key steps in developing a comprehensive complaints management strategy have been identified. The first step is about developing an effective approach to complaint management by understanding how, and why, customers voice their dissatisfaction. This needs to be followed by having the right procedures in place to facilitate customers’ access to the organisation in order to streamline customer interaction and to optimise the outcome for the company and the customer. Thirdly, companies need to take a strategic view of complaint management giving it equal weight to other marketing strategy initiatives such as customer satisfaction targets and loyalty programs. The fourth and final step is to identify and measure the benefits of complaint management along with its associated costs in order to ensure the appropriate allocation of resources required not only to track improvements but also to communicate the importance of consistent complaint management processes across all levels of the organisation. Without a thorough understanding of the costs and benefits of a comprehensive complaint management system it is difficult to engage the organisation at the strategic level. Addressing complaint management strategically provides coherence, unity and integration with the myriad policies and procedures that make up the smooth and successful running of an organisation. Coherence is needed to meet the expectations of customers who want seamless interaction with the organisation and who are increasingly likely to voice their dissatisfaction through the highly visible mechanisms of social media such as blogs or twitter feeds. This research concludes that both researchers and practitioners need to develop a solid understanding of the potential benefits and financial implications of managing complaints in a timely and satisfactory manner. In order to do this it is necessary to monitor performance and close the gap between strategic goals and customer behaviour. They also need to understand the barriers to complaining faced by less confident and less vocal, customers, so that the business can gain a true and holistic view of its customer service operation. Finally, social media platforms need to be integrated into the portfolio of communication channels available to organisations and customers alike in order to develop the power of electronic word of mouth.

Item Type:Report (Report)
Divisions:Henley Business School > Marketing and Reputation
ID Code:83747
Publisher:Henley Centre for Customer Management


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