How Can I Streamline Our Complaint Process?

NikkiQSM

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Hello Covers -

My GM wants me to review our customer complaint process because it feels our response time takes too long. Hoping you can give me your :2cents: on what you think we can do to improve it.

We are a medical plastics compounder.

Here is the process:
#1. Customer files complaint with Sales.
#2. Sales submit customer complaint form and coorespondence (emails) in regards to the complaint to me. (Quality System Manager).
#3. I pulled retains of the questionable product and inspect.
#4. I pass on initial findings to Sales.
#5. Sales will ask for samples from the customer to confirm my findings and / or to see what they are seeing, if we don't see any issues.
#6. Samples arrive - R&D and QC take a look.
#7. A response is put together and Sales passes it onto the Customer - arranging a return if necessary.

So here is the hold up:
Steps 1 - 5 are done fairly quickly - 1 day turn around.
But then we have to wait for the samples to arrive from the customer.
Or we have to wait for the customer to get to us with answers to the questions we may have.

I'm constantly asking Sales for them to follow-up to find out where samples are, or what the customer is asking for (in regards to returns / credits / replacements), R&D and QC can be very busy so that can cause delays as well.

Finally, once we have an answer - I need to rely on Sales to give me updates / feedback from the customer that the issue is closed. This can take several emails.

What can I put in place that can force Sales or Others to get these steps done in a more timely manner?

In my eyes, I can't see how it can be done - but I've been told to improve this process.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
 
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T

Tara Monson

#2
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

I am following this post as this is where our system gets held up as well!

Apparently, this may be a common issue. :)
 

Michael_M

Trusted Information Resource
#3
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

Hello Covers -

My GM wants me to review our customer complaint process because it feels our response time takes too long. Hoping you can give me your :2cents: on what you think we can do to improve it.

We are a medical plastics compounder.

Here is the process:
#1. Customer files complaint with Sales.
#2. Sales submit customer complaint form and coorespondence (emails) in regards to the complaint to me. (Quality System Manager).
#3. I pulled retains of the questionable product and inspect.
#4. I pass on initial findings to Sales.
#5. Sales will ask for samples from the customer to confirm my findings and / or to see what they are seeing, if we don't see any issues.
#6. Samples arrive - R&D and QC take a look.
#7. A response is put together and Sales passes it onto the Customer - arranging a return if necessary.

So here is the hold up:
Steps 1 - 5 are done fairly quickly - 1 day turn around.
But then we have to wait for the samples to arrive from the customer.
Or we have to wait for the customer to get to us with answers to the questions we may have.

I'm constantly asking Sales for them to follow-up to find out where samples are, or what the customer is asking for (in regards to returns / credits / replacements), R&D and QC can be very busy so that can cause delays as well.

Finally, once we have an answer - I need to rely on Sales to give me updates / feedback from the customer that the issue is closed. This can take several emails.

What can I put in place that can force Sales or Others to get these steps done in a more timely manner?

In my eyes, I can't see how it can be done - but I've been told to improve this process.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

I will be Cavalier about this:

Do sales work on Commission? If yes, where is the commission (money) for working on this type of issue. I do not believe sales should be responsible for manufacturing errors but sales should be required to follow-up on previous sales (good and bad). "Commission sales" drives one to 'sell' things. Is it possible to 'budget' money from manufacturing to 'pay' salesmen for manufacturing mistakes (assuming it was a manufacturing mistake).
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#4
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

But then we have to wait for the samples to arrive from the customer.
Or we have to wait for the customer to get to us with answers to the questions we may have.

I'm constantly asking Sales for them to follow-up to find out where samples are, or what the customer is asking for (in regards to returns / credits / replacements), R&D and QC can be very busy so that can cause delays as well.

Finally, once we have an answer - I need to rely on Sales to give me updates / feedback from the customer that the issue is closed. This can take several emails.

What can I put in place that can force Sales or Others to get these steps done in a more timely manner?

In my eyes, I can't see how it can be done - but I've been told to improve this process.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Have you asked Sales for their input?

A technology-based solution could be to employ something similar to an Information System Help Desk ticket system. Every complaint will be entered and assigned a ticket number. Ticket remain open until proper feedback and resolution are received.
 

NikkiQSM

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

Have you asked Sales for their input?

A technology-based solution could be to employ something similar to an Information System Help Desk ticket system. Every complaint will be entered and assigned a ticket number. Ticket remain open until proper feedback and resolution are received.
I have. They basically stated that they "get busy" and need to handle quotes, and order placement and then lose track.

I like the idea of a technology-based solution - but I was hoping to implement something more quickly.

Right now, the only thing reminding Sales about particular complaints is me sending them emails asking for follow-ups.

Maybe a document of some type? Or some sort of signal to Sales can be sent every so often - Maybe every other day? Or that may be excess and annoying...
 

Pjservan

Involved In Discussions
#6
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

Waiting for the customer to return a sample is indeed a common bottle neck in this type of process. So the question boils down to, do you really need to have the sample returned?

Based on your process description here are a few ways that your process can be made faster:

1) Ensure that the complaint input process is accurate and detail enough from the very beginning. Ensure that you are being given a complete picture.

2) The moment that you receive the complaint make the determination if in reality it is a complaint, have you seen this type of failure before or is this something completely new.

3) If you replicate the complaint with your retains, do you really need to have a sample always returned in order for you to work on a solution? IF not then you can move ahead.

4) While working with sales is the right thing to do there might be instances- for complex problems at least, where the point of contact should be either yourself or someone technical and the same from the customer side.

Best of luck!
 
R

Reg Morrison

#7
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
It is very typical for organizations to create a communication bottleneck with their customers via sales. However, as already mentioned, anything that the sales function is responsible for which does not translate IMMEDIATELY in more sales does not have their attention and it is not their priority.

My suggestions are (assuming that you can not bypass the bottleneck):

  • Expedite the alleged defective product sample return by providing the customer with a pre-addressed, post paid box.
  • Once samples are received and the defect analysis is finished, communicate directly the results with a customer rep and cc your sales person in charge of that customer. Doing so, you eliminate the middle man channeling communications.
  • As sales is a process, one of the quality objectives for the sales process should be set as, eg, average time to resolve customer complaints. By doing so, and associating some performance review aspect with sales performance in assisting the complaint resolution process, they should feel "pressed" to perform timely their duties.

Good luck.
 

NikkiQSM

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

My suggestions are (assuming that you can not bypass the bottleneck):

  • Expedite the alleged defective product sample return by providing the customer with a pre-addressed, post paid box.
  • Once samples are received and the defect analysis is finished, communicate directly the results with a customer rep and cc your sales person in charge of that customer. Doing so, you eliminate the middle man channeling communications.
  • As sales is a process, one of the quality objectives for the sales process should be set as, eg, average time to resolve customer complaints. By doing so, and associating some performance review aspect with sales performance in assisting the complaint resolution process, they should feel "pressed" to perform timely their duties.

Good luck.
Thanks Reg!

Customer Complaint turn-around time is one of our quality objectives, which is why I ask been asked to speed up the process.

I do ask Customer Service to jump in to try to get communication to the customers as well.

It's an internal law here, that QC and R&D should NEVER speak to the customer directly. Everything should go through Sales / Customer Serv. first.

I'm beginning to think that my hands are tied, unless the higher-ups are going to let me break that law.
 
R

Reg Morrison

#9
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

It's an internal law here, that QC and R&D should NEVER speak to the customer directly. Everything should go through Sales / Customer Serv. first.

I'm beginning to think that my hands are tied, unless the higher-ups are going to let me break that law.
Certainly, there is a reason for the "law". But, if the process has to be reengineered in order to improve the customer complaint resolution turnaround time, management has to realize the bottlenecks have to resolved. There are ways to expedite the communication without bypassing the people who need to know of the discussion.

Good luck. Again.
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#10
Re: How Can I Stream-Line Our Complaint Process?

Customer Complaint turn-around time is one of our quality objectives, which is why I ask been asked to speed up the process.
Does Sales know that this is an objective? With all due respect, if they're one of the issues, they need to take ownership in resolving in...by bringing in you for support (as needed) for process analysis.

NikkiWSM said:
They basically stated that they "get busy" and need to handle quotes, and order placement and then lose track.
If resolving Customer Complaints effectively is part of their process, they need to recognize this and they need to be held accountable for it. The excuse that they "get busy" is inadequate...everyone's busy.
 
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