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Tracking Business Complaints the Simple Way

written by: Rose Smith•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 4/28/2011

Brick and mortar businesses can learn a lot from the way social marketing allows consumers to have a voice that gets heard. By tracking business complaints, businesses can determine where they fall short and make needed improvements.

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    Internet Teachings

    Checkbox 

    There are so many lessons the Internet has taught big box brick and mortar stores. One of the most beneficial to customers is the value of feedback and tracking customer complaints. Social sites such as Facebook and MySpace literally changed the power balance between consumers and big box merchants overnight. Stories float all over the Internet about the frustration of trying to resolve a complaint through a corporate office that could care less about customer service. They have too much merchandise to push.

    One day, this frustrated customer finds herself airing her frustrations to her friends on MySpace. Within an hour, she receives an apology from the behemoth company she's been trying to get her conflict resolved with for four months! In just a few days, her issue with the company is magically resolved.

    It's unfortunate it took bad-mouthing on social marketing sites to make big box stores realize that in the middle of them making millions of dollars a day is–the paying customer. And customers still want good customer service. Thus, online merchants as well as big box stores are discovering the power of customer complaints–and doing something about them before they become a problem to share with millions over the Internet. Using form tracking business complaint tools are an effective way to improve customer service.

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    Components of Form

    An effective tracking form does not have to be complicated–in fact, the simpler, the better because ease of use encourages employees to track complaints rather than avoid tracking them because they have to fill out an extensive form.

    • Description of Complaint
    • Customer Name
    • Tracking Number
    • Resolution

    This is all the basic information your form for tracking business complaints needs to effectively track common errors or gripes.

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    Description of Complaint

    You can't fix what you don't know is broken. Smart car owners bring in their vehicles for regular maintenance checks and repairs to keep small car problems from escalating and becoming expensive fixes. A complaint tracking form works by that same philosophy. By giving customers a way to let you know what problems they have when they do business with you, you are taking a proactive approach to fixing problems before they cost you in:

    1. Loss of customers
    2. Loss of referrals
    3. Loss of good reputation

    Train your employees to encourage customer feedback. If a customer expresses a complaint, have your employee document a short description of the complaint.

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    Customer Name

    Many organizations don't require the customer's name when having them fill out a complaint form. Conventional thinking says some customers feel that by being honest, they may face repercussions. Depending on the type of business you're in, you can make the name optional. Customers can also leave their first name only.

    And since the tracking form is one that is really an in-house form that should be filled out by you or your employee after serving the customer, you can utilize the name segment as an additional tracking tool. Let employees write: phone customer, in-store customer or Internet customer instead of the name. This eliminates any mixed feelings by consumers while allowing you to further track where the complaints come from.

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    Tracking Number

    The tracking number is simply the number of each complaint in sequence. You can create an overly complicated numbering system by breaking down complaints and numbering them by product, section, even phone or in-store customer, but again, if you over complicate, you'll find some employees will avoid filling out the form.

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    Resolution

    The resolution is as important as the complaint. Keep it simple.

    "Provided coupon"

    "Notified management"

    "Sent manager letter"

    "Gave discount"

    "Unresolved" - This is something you never want to see on a form for tracking business complaints. Train employees to promptly find a resolution--even if it's passing on the complaint to management. This makes customers feel they are being heard.

    Download this Complaint Tracking Form and resolve to implement this simple tracking system to ensure customers are heard and complaints are quickly resolved.

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    References

    Image Credit: Jscreationz, Free Digital Photos

    Sample Forms, Complaint Forms, http://www.sampleforms.org/category/complaint-forms