How to deal with online complaints

  Simonx   |   22nd October 2019 - 5 min read

Features | Insurance

Keeping customers content is not an easy endeavour. People have different tastes, needs and we all demand different types of attention, care and quality when it comes to products and services.

Financial services companies and their employees have to endure complaints from customers just like every other sector and these can run into the millions as evidenced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) this week which published its aggregate complaints data for the first half of 2019.

What were the key findings?

Overall, companies received 4.29 million complaints in the first six months of this year. It’s no surprise that a huge chunk of them consisted of payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints, which made up 49% of all the complaints recorded over this period.

There were, of course, more PPI related complaints than usual this year, given that consumers had a deadline of 29 August to file them. Then, considering the volume, PPI complaints took longer on average to resolve compared to previous periods with 24% of all complaints taking longer than eight weeks to resolve compared to 3% in the first half of 2018.

When PPI complaints were stripped out, the most complained about products were current accounts (which consisted of 14% of complaints), credit cards (8%) and motor and transport insurance (6%).

The good news is that there were fewer complaints for this half of 2019. Acording to the FCA, the average volume of complaints received per 1,000 accounts for banking and credit cards, for instance, went down to 4.2 compared to 4.6 for 2018 H. This also applied to home finance, which decreased from 9.6 to 8.7 complaints per 1,000 mortgage accounts.

Keeping customers happy

So how do you keep clients happy particularly in this day and age when complaints are made online for the whole world to see? Social media complaints can be embarrassing but there are a number of ways to deal with the situation which can help to diffuse the anger and keep your brand’s reputation in tact:

  1. It’s better to prevent than find a cure later:Happy customers may not always convey how they feel. They’re happy with the service and move on. It tends to be unhappy customers that most often post their views online as they, quite rightly, want their problem addressed swiftly. So how can you address this imbalance, particularly if you have a small business that would be harder hit by a complaint? The key is to address complaints before they’re put online. If you get a call or email from an unhappy customer make sure you react quickly to sort their problem out because the next step for them, if they’re not heard, is to make themselves heard online.
  2. Keep up with the sunny disposition:It may be hard to be on the receiving end of a complaint from a customer. If they’re unhappy they tend to vent out their frustration to the first person in the firing line (so to speak). This is where it’s vital to ensure that your staff have the training to deal with their customers in a professional way.
  3. Apologise quickly and take the conversation offline:If the deed has already been done, i.e. your customer has posted a complaint online then it’s best to eat humble pie and apologise. But try to take any further conversation offline. Offer to phone or email to resolve the situation. This would be far better than enabling the rant/dissatisfaction to escalate in front of your entire online audience.
  4. Keep emotions out of it:Nobody likes to deal with an angry customer. But if they’re shouting down the phone at you or putting a bad review online try to remember that they’re the ones that have been wronged and suffering as a result of a bad service. Be calm, listen, thank them for their response, don’t challenge them on it and offer support.
  5. Offer compensation:The customer may have received a product or service from your company but if the quality isn’t there then you have to take responsibility for this failure. Offer a discount, refund or compensate them in another way. Would they be happy with another service or offering or simply even a free coffee? If you’re able to make it right, it’s also a good idea to follow up on the complaint to see if they’re happy with the outcome. This may also prevent them from posting a negative review of your company and may actually even result in a glowing review online instead!

Image by Алина Осипова from Pixabay 

Simon Cowling

Simon spent over 10 years programming from behind a keyboard, before transitioning across to management. A keen adrenaline junkie, whether that involves going up the mountain or over the edge of the cliff. He learned his management skills not just in the I.T world but also running youth camps and conferences, helping teenagers find a footing in life. He also really likes pie.

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