Survey to Customers Regarding Our Complaint Response Time

NikkiQSM

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Hello All -

Top Management (and I) had a follow-up meeting to our Management Council Meeting yesterday. We were finalizing our Quality Objectives & Goals for this year.

Last year - Sales drove that complaint response time should be two weeks or less. I (being the manager of the complaints) expressed several times how difficult this time frame is to achieve. Waiting for feedback from the customer, from Sales, waiting for returns or samples, waiting for approval for returns... these are all reasons why that two week window just is way too difficult.

Our boss saw what I was saying and suggested something different. Maybe not so much as a "goal", but it is a task he wants me to complete.

He wants me to send out a survey to our customers asking how they feel about our response time. And then next year we will send out another survey to see if we have improved.

Personally, I dont see how effective this will be since it is, in fact, a "survey". The customers that fill it out this year, may completely skip over it next year.

Regardless, I was hoping for a possible example of a survey like this. Or some input on what sort of questions I should include besides the ever so obvious - "Are you satisfied with our complaint response time?"

Thoughts and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!!!!:agree:
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#2
Re: Survey to Customers Regarding Our Complaint Response Time?

I won't lie to you...I care about response time.

But...

I care more about the first response (i.e., the faster, the better).

I care more about understanding progress (e.g., UPS or FedEx tracking bar for my package...why can't we track the progress of complaints or issues?)

I care more about updates (i.e., if there is a delay, okay...but tell me, don't just leave me out in the cold).

I care more about a proper resolution (i.e., fix my issue such that it will not happen again).

You can send a survey out...and even include questions that address some of the items above...but if you care about me, as a Customer, you'll do me the honour of contacting me personally.

Something else to consider...the complaint satisfaction versus the complaint experience.

I may not like the resolution to my complaint - so, no matter how quickly you respond/resolve it, I will be unsatisfied.

Consider framing the scenario from the perspective of the experience - timely first response, respectful conversations, and so on.
 

DavyS

Site Quality Manager
#3
Re: Survey to Customers Regarding Our Complaint Response Time?

Is this a fixed target for resolution (which may in fact prove impossible due to events outside of your control), or just for an initial response? If for the initial response, then I would suggest that two weeks is nowhere near acceptable.
I would set up something along the lines of:
1. Fast initial response (this one you CAN normally set a deadline for - e.g. within 24 hours for a first response) - identify yourself as a named point of contact for them.
2. Good communications - tell the complainant what you are doing, and set their expectations as to how long before you will contact them again (not too long...)
3. More good communications - let them know what you have found, and what you plan to do about it - and how long they will have to wait. Be honest!
4. When you have a resolution, tell them
 

dsanabria

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
Hello All -

Top Management (and I) had a follow-up meeting to our Management Council Meeting yesterday. We were finalizing our Quality Objectives & Goals for this year.

Last year - Sales drove that complaint response time should be two weeks or less. I (being the manager of the complaints) expressed several times how difficult this time frame is to achieve. Waiting for feedback from the customer, from Sales, waiting for returns or samples, waiting for approval for returns... these are all reasons why that two week window just is way too difficult.

Our boss saw what I was saying and suggested something different. Maybe not so much as a "goal", but it is a task he wants me to complete.

He wants me to send out a survey to our customers asking how they feel about our response time. And then next year we will send out another survey to see if we have improved.

Personally, I dont see how effective this will be since it is, in fact, a "survey". The customers that fill it out this year, may completely skip over it next year.

Regardless, I was hoping for a possible example of a survey like this. Or some input on what sort of questions I should include besides the ever so obvious - "Are you satisfied with our complaint response time?"

Thoughts and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!!!!:agree:
Let me see if I understand your scenario:

a customer complaint about your product and services and the average time to respond is about 2 weeks?

Now management wants you to talk to your customers (survey, phone call, emails...) about how they feel. You are asking for feelings?

It looks like you have an process that is not effective so start at that process.

Do a Paretto and identify why and start working on that process.

As a customer - I would start looking for a supplier that gives me the product on time without issues.
 

Wes Bucey

Consultant/Advisor
Moderator
#5
I am a consultant so my approach may startle you. I ask the following of a client with ANY issue about customer complaints: (1) How many do you get in a week? month? year? (2) Is it the same customer? product? process? (3) Recurring issue? OR one time? (3) Is there a process to track a complaint from receipt to assessing validity to root cause investigation to resolution to evaluation of resolution? Customer involvement "may" be necessary at any/all/none of the steps.

The point is have your own house in order as best you can do BEFORE raising a red flag for a customer.

Elsewhere in the Cove, I have written about a Material Review Board to handle ALL complaints. Later today, I'll try to post a link. MRBs, properly formed should have the power and authority to deal with in-house folks, suppliers, and customers at any level to resolve an issue no matter how long it takes. The key is maintaining communication with original complainant to assure the matter is not ignored.

ADDED IN EDIT:
Happened to find this squib on my own hard drive. Probably from quoting my original Cove post.
In my own practice, "suspects" were referred to a Material Review Board. The MRB had power and authority to make unilateral decision on suspects detected in-house. If a suspect arose at a customer, MRB worked jointly with customer to determine true status and devise a remedy acceptable to all parties. Often, a customer would be called in to affirm a "use as is" determination, regardless of where the suspicion arose.

From 1980 on, my MRB (Material Review Board) was always cross-functional, so it had the experience, knowledge, and power to make decisions on the spot (high efficiency - no delays in making decisions about N/C on incoming or outgoing material.)

I did essentially the same thing with the groups which made decisions about Contract Review and plans for new capital expenditures.

It just seemed like good sense to me. I'd be willing to bet lots of other executives independently came to the same conclusion as I.
The point we need to keep in mind is:
For a number of reasons - operator variation, measuring instrument variation, personal interpretation or estimate of an instrument reading, etc. - folks inspecting the same part may come to different conclusions regarding conformance to specifications. It is good company practice to have a process in place to routinely resolve the issue when such instances arise. In my contract machining business, such instances arose frequently enough that we codified the resolution under our Material Review Board, regardless of whether the issue arose in-house or not. This is definitely NOT a matter for discipline or punishment, but for simple, methodical resolution, with NO FINGER POINTING!

NOTE: the simplest agenda follows these steps:

  1. do we have the expertise here on the MRB to decide if material is conforming or not?
  2. do we need outside help?
  3. if we need outsiders, do we have authority to get and pay (if necessary) such experts?
  4. does our customer have to be involved in the decision?
  5. once we decide whether material is conforming, do we have the power and authority to ship it/rework it/scrap it?
Of course, we applied this same methodology to ANY complaint whether generated in-house, by customer, supplier, or regulator. Over the course of ten years, our processes:
  1. eliminated any regulatory complaints or issues,
  2. reduced causes of customer complaints to mere miscommunication, mostly on customer's end in conveying changes and waivers to pertinent personnel, usually resolved with a phone call
  3. reduced our in-house complaints and complaints about suppliers to near zero
ALL by diligent application of FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis)

We never "lost" a customer due to unresolved complaints about us, but we "fired" several over unresolved complaints we had about them.
 
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Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#6
Hello All -

Top Management (and I) had a follow-up meeting to our Management Council Meeting yesterday. We were finalizing our Quality Objectives & Goals for this year.

Last year - Sales drove that complaint response time should be two weeks or less.
There's a difference between response and resolution, so it's not clear what the objective is about. Response should be virtually immediate, while resolution might take a while. In the initial response the customer should be apprised of the variables that control resolution. A survey will do no good. The sales people are apparently already aware that there is some dissatisfaction with response/resolution times, so an investigation is needed in that direction.
 

Wes Bucey

Consultant/Advisor
Moderator
#7
There's a difference between response and resolution, so it's not clear what the objective is about. Response should be virtually immediate, while resolution might take a while. In the initial response the customer should be apprised of the variables that control resolution. A survey will do no good. The sales people are apparently already aware that there is some dissatisfaction with response/resolution times, so an investigation is needed in that direction.
Jim is right - you can't find an answer unless you really know what the question is. Most of the long-time experts on the Cove are able to "intuit" the real question by using a combination of experience and psychology. Ultimately, finding a solution does come down to being able to communicate clearly.
 
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Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Thoughts and feedback are greatly appreciated
ISO has a very good guidance document on Customer Complaint Handling. It is the ISO 10002:2014 document. It provides excellent suggestions on how to develop and improve a system to manage negative customer feedback.

Things to consider in line with the discussion already performed herein:

1. Prompt acknowledgement of the complaint receipt.
2. Manage customer expectations on what they should receive, i.e., response time, status update, compensations, etc...
3. For issues that will demand time to be resolved, keep them informed.

A customer complaint can help you in identifying system problems in your organization, but be aware: one of the biggest sources for customer dissatisfaction emanates from mismanaged expectations originating from the sales function. Misguided sales people will over-promise, knowing full well the organization will under deliver. They will lie, cheat, misguide customers, whatever it takes to make the sale, as most of them work on commissions. If the organization culture allows and promotes that kind of behavior, managing customer complaints will only lead to more frustrations for you. Be aware of your internal context.

Good luck.
 
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