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Are you finding & fixing root causes early or just reporting symptoms?

Complaints management is not about the three R’s, record, respond and report on complaints. This is purely hygiene, we have to do this as a minimum.The real goal is about finding and fixing root causes permanently and fast.

Every day I see organizations logging and reporting on complaints and then distributing these reports to other managers. Most often these reports are glanced at if you’re lucky and very rarely they are actually considered as a valuable tool for uncovering what went wrong. Why?

Well think about this. You go to the doctor and complain about pain around your knee. The doctor records your symptoms. Moderate pain reported around the anterior of left knee, unable to bear weight and marked swelling. The doctor swings into action, puts you in a brace and tells you to stay off it for 12 weeks. You come back after 12 weeks, and to everyone’s surprise the pain is still there and even worse.



Thankfully most doctors don’t treat symptoms; they search for the cause or causes of the symptoms. Doctors know they can’t assume you need a brace because you have pain around your knee. They investigate using specialized tools like X-ray and MRI. These tools allow the doctor to see beyond the symptom. Methodically the doctor pieces the puzzle together by considering the symptoms, weighing in the results uncovered by specialized tools and then applying their knowledge and experience to diagnose the cause. Then they implement a course of treatment. Even when they implement a course of treatment, they continue to monitor the progress and keep using specialized tools to see if the treatment is indeed remedying the problem.


Complaints about your company, staff, products, services or policies can be trivial, frivolous and insignificant. But they can also be symptoms of serious problems that must be remedied in order to minimize losses due to customer defection, bad press and brand damage. One root cause can affect tens, hundreds or thousands of you're hard earnt customers.

So how does your company treat complaints? Are you logging and reporting on symptoms in a hope that someone else with the knowledge, experience and specialized tools will diagnose the root cause, implement a course of action to rectify it and then monitor it until it has been determined to be fixed permanently. Or does your complaints, quality, risk and compliance system have the specialized tools that help you find root causes quickly by looking beyond the symptom and then provide you with a framework to implement a corrective action and preventative action plan.

I am continuously surprised how many organizations I see that are just struggling with the basics of complaints handling. If you are using a complaints database or spreadsheet that provides symptom logging and reporting, you're in trouble, because it’s like being a doctor without X-ray, MRI or blood tests, how on earth do you expect to find the root cause and treat it accurately and even if you do find the root cause where are you recording the corrective and preventive action and are you then monitoring future complaints to verify if the course of action you took has worked. Clearly this is well beyong logging and reporting symptoms.

Thankfully early root cause detection from complaints has been available in complaints, quality, risk and compliance systems like Complaints Pro for some time. It has QA Alarms as your specialist tool that isolate clusters of complaints with common characteristics and alerts you in real time of a potential root cause. This provides you with the MRI level detail which speeds your path to finding the root cause. As complaints keep coming in, the QA Alarms vigilantly monitor and escalate to you any suspect clusters that may be related to a systemic root cause or even a localised root cause that is affecting many of your customers.

Finally these specialized tools are available for a fraction of what you would think they would cost Prices start at $24/user/month and fixed price system set up costs of just $8000. And of course you can test the concept with a free 30 day no obligation trial.


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