The Rest of the Story . . .

Customer complaints, appropriately captured and analyzed, can provide useful insight about process defects. Although complaints are not the preferred method of obtaining the Voice of the Customer (VOC), you should not miss the opportunity to learn from them. But to do this, proper reporting and segmentation of customer complaints is needed. This requires that good operational definitions be established. Oftentimes, this first step is where we fail to capture the granularity of information needed to provide future meaningful analysis. For example, once a complaint is received and recorded, obtaining more specific information for further analysis will be difficult if not impossible. Categorizing complaints about a product or service as “doesn’t work” or “too hard to use” won’t be much help in identifying the root cause of the problem.

Identifying a good list of complaint “cause codes” for your particular business will take some work but will be worth while in providing information that drives a solution that not only fixes this customer’s complaint but can be used to prevent other customers from experiencing the same type of problem. It is all too easy to put a band-aid on the customer’s boo-boo and walk away. After all – this solves the immediate customer’s problem. But without capturing detailed aspects about the customer complaint, even the best Six Sigma Black Belt will be hard pressed to help you understand the rest of the story.

Comments 4

  1. Christan

    Starting to look at custoemr complaints is only the beginning, indeed.

    It’s very underestimated in general how much information you can get out of complaints if you manage to set up a very good reporting system.
    This needs to include categories, regions, ease of access, willingnes of people, understanding of the importance etc. It takes time and effort to set this up properly and to have people in your organization adopt it.

    Another item to add to "voice of the customer" is the tool called customer-dashboarding. This will give in-depth information about customer needs. As long as the sales managers are bought into this.

    If there are people around who like to share their experiences I’m very interested.

    Kind regards

  2. Paul

    I think that one thing people often miss when recording customer complaints is that they need to take a two tiered approach to implement closed loop corrective action.

    1. Collect the root cause information as to what defect occured in respect of the customers complaint e.g. charged incorrectly

    2. Collect the trigger information which turned this defect into a complaint. e.g. customer called in numerous times but got no response.

    This gives us a two tiered approach to problem solving. 1. Where a defect occurs we should try and ensure it does not become a complaint. 2. Eliminate the root cause of the defects.

  3. Adolfo

    I worked during 6 years as Field Quality supervisor in a major company and I analyzed a big quantity of data regarding customer complaints. As Christan mentioned one of the most important things in order to get a good analysis its a good categorization of the data.

    One of our biggest problems was the fact that some customers when they contacted the call center they weren’t very clear about the problem they were having with their product. They didn’t know whether it was a bad functioning of product, some problem not related with the product (another device connected to it that was causing problems) or just some function that was included or not included on the product.

    Another problem was the fact that the agents in charge of take the calls weren’t using the proper codes for the problems.

    These just are a few problems I had when i worked there, data analysis is a fun thing to do but could be a pain if data is not properly categorized.

    Looking forward to hear your comments or experiences.


  4. Jim

    One additional thing to consider about complaints is to capture "complaints" that may not be yours. Capturing complaints about things that ultimately may be a problem with the customers’ process gives insight into the customer that can be useful in heading off future quality problems or in the best case, improving future designs to help the customer avoid these problems.

Leave a Reply