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Complaints management

Tips for managing a rise in complaints

Complaints are expected to rise as lockdown eases. Are you equipped to cope? Tips for improving complaints handling.

9 July 2020

Many organisations expect an upsurge in complaints in the wake of this pandemic. They will be confronted by a mix of:

  • Clear service failure complaints
  • Shortfalls against expectations, realistic or not, and
  • Outrage often born of frustration and fear.

How will you pluck out from all the noise those issues where someone has genuinely been wronged or there is a material risk to the business? How will you better support the vulnerable, who may not shout the loudest?

‘Separating true hurts from the moans’ as one of our Ombudsman clients put it.

Many of our customers have been dealing with rising complaints and shrinking budgets for years. We share three tips for improving complaints handling from our experience supplying complaint management systems worldwide:

Triage quickly

One of the most effective moves we’ve seen is to better equip front line contact staff to quickly triage cases, so they can:

  1. Deal with complaints there and then, with an easy way to report the outcome.

  2. Easily escalate the complaint for specialist review, e.g. to professional caseworkers.   

  3. Flag vulnerable customers with notifications and alerts.

  4. Re-direct/ signpost issues that ought to be dealt with by another organisation or person. With or without a follow up reminder.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) trained and equipped their team to do precisely this. Resolving as many as 90% of all cases efficiently and economically at the frontline.

Introducing a new “triage” stage removed a bottleneck. The flow of complaints could keep going, reserving the input of more senior staff for trickier cases. This contributed to some 37% reduction in costs while managing extra caseload. LGSCO use Workpro as their case management system. You can read their case study here.

Be consistent

Another big win, reported by a customer with a high volume of complaints, is to provide tools that promote compliance and consistency. This gives all staff confidence that they are doing the right thing and complainants assurance they are being treated fairly.  An IT complaint management system provides:

  1. Fast fill forms to capture case details accurately, with no re-keying required if the case needs to be escalated.

  2. Access to pre-agreed letter and email templates, auto populated with case details but easily personalised, so its quick and easy to issue responses.

  3. Set guidelines using workflow validation rules that highlight what staff can and cannot do, making it clear when they need to escalate the case.

Take control

Ensure your team and managers can track cases and monitor performance. Make it easier for people to collaborate, whether separated by two metres or two hundred miles:

  1. Enable visibility of the team’s caseload, with colleagues able to cover for each other. According to appropriate permissions of course.

  2. Track caseload from wherever you are with real time performance statistics, so you can spot any bottlenecks or issues as they happen.

  3. Analyse trends and root causes, so you can learn from all complaints, whether ‘true hurts’ or collective ‘moans’.

If ever there was a time to make sure you are following best practice in your complaint handling, this is it.

At Workpro we help make the business of managing any volume of complaints efficient and compliant. Workpro complaints management software is used by Ombudsman and frontline organisations throughout the UK and worldwide.

Contact us now to learn more.