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

Is It Time to Replace Your Complaint Management System?

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If your company is like many, you built a home-grown servicing or complaint management system or installed a Siebel (or similar CRM) application 10 to 15 years ago, and have not revisited the decision since. In the meantime, the underlying technology has improved substantially, the cost of computing and storage has dropped precipitously, and network capacity has increased dramatically, changing the entire servicing paradigm. Customer service philosophies have evolved, and government regulations have become onerous.

While technical, regulatory, and business landscapes change, organizations face the same servicing challenge they always have: the need to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver an outstanding and differentiated customer experience. Organizations need a flexible customer service and support application that can rapidly adapt to the evolving needs of their business. While today's primary challenges are handling regulatory requirements and incorporating social media into the servicing framework, tomorrow's will be the adoption of predictive customer service and applying advanced analytics. It's time for organizations to implement a complaint management system that enables them to provide outstanding service.

Build the Right Infrastructure

Delivering an outstanding service experience requires the right blend of people, processes, and technology. The most important element in the service equation is the agents who interact with customers and prospects; they are what the public remembers most. But agents need enabling technology to efficiently and productively perform their jobs.

When customers call, email, or send an SMS, they are looking for help. They may be requesting information, trying to process a transaction, making a complaint, or simply placing an order. Unless enterprises can respond to all of these issues rapidly and effectively, they will disappoint their customers. Today, when outstanding customer service is often the primary differentiator between products and services that are otherwise similar or commoditized, building a strong and efficient servicing infrastructure is a necessity.

The essential systems in a servicing environment are the automatic call distributor for capturing, queuing, and routing work to the most appropriate agent, and the servicing application for managing the customer's relationship with the organization and tracking the resolution of inquiries. While as many as 45 different systems and applications may be used in contact centers, these two are mission-critical.

The pace of innovation in the servicing arena during the past 10 to 15 years has been impressive. If your company is limited by an inflexible servicing system that requires IT resources for even the simplest of changes, if agents have to visit multiple screens to obtain or input basic customer data, if it takes seconds to retrieve information, if agents require substantial training to use the application, or if system reports fail to provide the information needed to effectively manage the operating environment, it's time to update your infrastructure.

Managers have shied away from replacing their CRM, customer service and support, and complaint management applications because of legitimate concerns that the project would not realize the promised payoff or even succeed. The new generation of servicing applications is designed to address many of these issues. These systems are built to handle a specific challenge (or set of challenges), not to conquer all customer-facing needs with a single database. The good ones are designed from the ground up using a services-oriented architecture that allows organizations to successfully implement one module at a time. These new applications come with prebuilt Web services and APIs to facilitate integration to other contact center, customer service, and enterprise applications. Just as important, they are supported by customer service subject-matter experts who have vertical knowledge and implementation experience.

Characteristics of an Outstanding Complaint Management System

Building an effective complaint management application can be challenging for enterprises and vendors. The developer must have deep knowledge about handling customer issues and complaints, along with the specific requirements of each vertical. The solution's framework must be compatible with the process flow of the organizations that are going to use it; applications should be verticalized and come out of the box with 80 percent of the functionality that organizations require.

The ideal complaint or customer service and support application should include a practical and friendly user interface that can 

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