Seven ways to fix the root causes of customer experience complaints

The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) recently revealed that UK customer complaints are at their highest level on record.

Seven ways to fix the root causes of customer experience complaints

The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) recently revealed that UK customer complaints are at their highest level on record. This suggests that there has never been a better time to get proactive in dealing with problems before they become issues. 

According to the ICS Customer Service Index results released in the summer, complaints are costing UK businesses more than £9bn a month in lost employee time, with 17.3% of UK customers experiencing a product or service problem. The research was collected in the ICS bi-annual survey, which polled 10,000 consumers across 13 industry sectors. ICS puts the jump down to global supply chain issues and staff shortages. These may be difficult to control, but in the world of customer support, it pays to be proactive about the fundamentals companies can control. 

The key comes down to improving internal processes that affect the customer experience, or, as the ICS said, there needs to be a shift away from ‘service recovery’ to identifying and fixing the root cause of the problems.

This focus on fixing the root cause of customer problems is exactly the work that my team has been highly focused on for the past 18 months. It’s a key fundamental of our customer journey work and we’re actively taking customer feedback into account to improve internal processes that impact our customers. How are we doing it? Here are seven key practices that are driving our successful customer service programme, led by Laura Matthews, Senior Project & Programme Manager. 

  1. We actively identify and document key pain points we see with each customer. In these, we explore how we can change the internal processes that are affecting the customer experience. In doing this, we work with cross-functional teams rather than just focusing on sales or professional services. 
  1. We listen to customer feedback and analyse it in a constructive, purely practical way. This helps us to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and see issues from their point of view. We use this analysis as the basis for workshops with our customers so that they can see what we’re doing with their feedback. These workshops can have a transformative effect on customer relationships. When customers feel they are being listened to and that you are acting on their feedback, there’s no better feeling. For us, it’s about building this culture of communication. 
  1. We treat customer journey work as ongoing, not a one-time exercise. We need to constantly evolve our processes to ensure we keep pace with customer expectations and build a culture of continuous improvement. By nature, SaaS software changes, new users come into the picture, and in relation to our customers specifically, accountancy practice leaders decide to take on new lines of business. Customer journey work needs to be on a continuous loop to address these changes, and our employees work side-by-side with our customers to create and manage solutions driven by a deep understanding of their needs, addressing the rapid changes in their environment. ​
  1. We set expectations and we are completely transparent in what we offer. This practice needs to be end-to-end, from pre-sales to sales, to implementation, account management and customer support.
  1. We are upfront about the importance of onboarding, including how long it will take to get customers onboarded properly. This includes implementing and integrating the software and training users. Handling onboarding is one of the most important parts of the customer journey. If customers don’t set aside enough time for it, they may experience issues and the software may not have the transformative effect we aim for. 
  1. We emphasise the importance of having good, clean data and promote good data governance practices. Poor data management is the root cause of what ends up being customer service issues. If customers start with good data and maintain it, they are set up to succeed and can do more as businesses. Good data paves the way for competitive advantage based on real-time, data-driven decisions. 
  1. We understand how important change management is in customer service. Not everyone looks forward to using new software – many people have been using their existing solutions for years and are comfortable with them, regardless of whether or not they are working perfectly. 

We know our customers are looking for us to help them with their journey beyond technology. We listen, we learn, and we partner with them. 

Elaine Roche
Elaine Roche

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