Customer Complaints = Golden Opportunities

Article

Sanes, Christina   (1993, ASQC)   AT&T Bell Laboratories; Whippany, NJ

Annual Quality Congress, Boston MA    Vol. 47    No. 0
QICID: 9937    May 1993    pp. 45-51
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Article Abstract

Customer feedback allows a business to learn about and fix product failures, service gaps, and process incompatibilities. A successful complaint gathering process requires a commitment of resources and leadership. The business must commit to resolving customer complaints and fixing processes as quickly as possible. Success may require a change in corporate culture, and this is often accomplished through employees who already have been informally resolving customer complaints. The complaint gathering process has three stages. First, the customer interface acknowledges the customer's complaint and attempts to quickly fix that immediate problem. Second, a problem analysis compares the immediate problem with previous complaints and looks for causal factors. Third, if there is a potential process problem that is causing the complaint, a quality improvement team is convened. The team looks for the root cause of the problem and recommends improvements. Methods for gathering customer complaints include customer service hotlines, onsite checklists, reply cards, point of service questionnaires, and product return departments. To evaluate effectiveness, the business should collect data on the performance and cost of the customer complaint process. Hints for success include: install the complaint process now, not later; know that resistance will always exist; trust the complaint processes of the best companies; reward employees for improvements; nurture this important tool.

Keywords

Customer complaints,Continuous improvement (CI),Human resources (HR),Customer supplier relationships,Customer satisfaction (CS),Cultural change


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