Monday, 8 September 2008

Turn Complaints Into Fixes, Features and Products - Welcome to Web 2.0

Ever since GE required me to get my Six Sigma greenbelt, I've been convinced that complaints can have a significant positive effect on costs and revenues. But only when you're prepared to painstakingly work from identifying the critical expressions of dissatisfaction to implementing the fix, feature and maybe eventually the product, that might logically result.

That isn't to say every business problem can't be solved without an enterprise-wide investment in Six Sigma, LEAN or some other problem-solving methodology. After all, an expression of dissatisfaction suggests a desire by the customer to improve his or her experience. And the process of capturing those expressions and resolving the issues creates the "architecture of participation" that is the very essence of successful Web 2.0 businesses.

Simply implementing a process for accurately classifying customers' initial expression of dissatisfaction from the customer's standpoint will get you going along the right path. It's then pretty much common sense to identify the most common issues, figure out their scale or value, and spend a proportionate amount in resources to find their root cause, the best fix for the money and a trigger that tells you if and when the problem resurfaces.

This is not a "customer service" issue. It's a business in itself.

Allowing all functions to see and contribute to the complaint resolution process will ensure that bad stuff doesn't get hidden, blame goes out the window (it could be you next!) and the organisation takes a holistic, realistic view of significant problems and the resources available to put them right for good.

Interestingly, the European Commission is currently consulting on a plan to harmonise the classification of complaints to third party agencies to ensure that "policy makers will be able to get a better picture of collective consumer detriment in various sectors". Ironically, that may in fact slow the pace of EU consumer regulation, as lack of transparency and consultation on the actual basis for regulating has long been a criticism leveled at the Commission.

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