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  • July 1, 2014
  • By Donna Fluss, president, DMG Consulting

Is It Time to Replace Your Complaint Management System?

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handle interactions from a variety of channels, including phone, email, chat, SMS, and social media. Additionally, it should allow companies to add channels as needed, without substantial investment. The application should come with a content-sensitive knowledge management module and support case collaboration so that multiple people can address various issues at the same time. The application should apply computer telephony integration and skills-based routing to deliver work to the appropriate employee. Scripting should be an available option. Ideally, the scripting functionality should be driven by worker skills and deployed only when necessary to facilitate resolution.

From a reporting and analytics perspective, the application should come standard with real-time and historical dashboards. Dashboards should be widget-based and fully customizable without requiring the assistance of IT. The application should include standard reporting templates designed to analyze the performance of agents, teams, sites, and the overall department. Users should be able to filter report findings and drill down to the underlying interactions. They should also be able to schedule and render reports in many formats, as well as download the data for further analysis in an enterprise repository. The application should include analytics to categorize and identify the root cause of issues; this should include heat maps and similar analytical capabilities.

Complaint management applications are used in highly complex operating environments; they should include an integration framework to make it cost-effective to integrate with internal and third-party applications. Work flow should be a foundational component of the solution, allowing users to automate the resolution of inquiries and other customer requests by applying work rules and logic, as well as streamlining the routing of inquiries that require live support to the appropriate people. The application should be Web-based to allow customers to self-report and follow the status of their inquiries. It should be designed with a services-oriented architecture and come with mobile capabilities that allow managers and customers to work via smart devices. Lastly, the application must enable users to comply with all types of regulatory requirements and be adaptable, as regulations are constantly changing.

The application should be available on-premises and in the cloud. It should be supported by a proven implementation methodology and a professional services team with vertical expertise. The company should provide on-site and Web-based training and certification programs for IT, system administrators, and agents. The vendor should offer a standard program in which its users are visited every three to six months to identify ways to improve system utilization and effectiveness. The vendor should use an agile development environment that delivers innovation on an ongoing basis; the development should be 30 percent to 50 percent user-driven and supported by an idea-sharing environment and user groups.

Final Thoughts

Most organizations are using outdated and inflexible customer service and support and complaint management systems. These systems are costing companies millions of dollars in lost productivity due to their inefficient processing capabilities. Managers have figured out how to work around their limitations and failings, but many of these solutions are way past their prime.

Given the cost and effort required to implement CRM-type applications, it's understandable that companies are hesitant to replace them. But times, technology, and best practices have changed. Many of these systems have turned into costly liabilities for enterprises, if only because they can't ensure compliance with internal and external regulations without system overhauls. Before investing in a major internal development project, take a look at the new servicing applications that are custom-built to address the handling of customer complaints. Many of the vendors that sell these products today have learned important lessons from the past. They are offering solutions that come with 60 percent to 80 percent of the required functionality, are designed for rapid implementation and integration, and can flexibly adapt to a changing business environment.


Donna Fluss  is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research, marketing analysis, and consulting.


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