I’d like to build on his discussion. His first tip is to view complaints as feedback. It’s important for the reasons he lists, but it’s also important for the complaints to be reviewed (after prompt resolution) by the appropriate people in senior management. Let’s say for example, you’re the watch buyer for a national chain of jewelry stores. You’re noticing that a new watch model is the most often returned watch across the chain. Although not every store or region is seeing these returns, nevertheless, chain wide, you’re seeing returns far above the average.
This could mean that one of the production runs had a defect in it, or that this particular model has a higher rate of defects throughout.
If you have a complaint process that informs senior management, you can spot these trends. Perhaps you need to notify the vendor and pull the watches from your stores. In this way, you can avoid a rash of returns which would aggravate your customers causing your employees to spend many hours straightening out the problems.
If senior managers are watching for these trends they can prevent a series of returns thereby avoiding the time lost to complaint handling by front line staff and allowing them to sell, not process returns.
Being able to spot these trends also could prevent a dip in customer loyalty resulting in lost opportunities for sales.
Bottom line: Senior management should encourage the reporting of complaints, even those resolved at the customer level, in order to spot trends before they negatively impact profits.
Remember Firestone tires and the Ford Motor Company?