Complaint Reporting – Customer Attributes Are Not Enough

customerattributes3customer conversationsI wanted to take the opportunity to call out a common mistake many organizations make when it comes to developing tools to capture data related to tracking customer complaints. Many organizations adopt what I call a demographic based approach by focusing on trying to understand more about the customer instead of drilling down to mine data for behavioral indicators that are reflective of true customer sentiment and experience.   Counting volume and types of customer complaints won’t solve your challenges.   So what, I got a lot of calls about claims in a particular state?  That doesn’t tell me a whole lot.  Remember that analytics are about fact based decision making, not periphery let’s have a discussion about this making.

Don’t be afraid to jump into data and start swimming.   The nuggets that await you can be significant.  Some key areas that can help you understand customer behavior includes comparative analyses of claim adjudication rates by pay point, trends of new and emerging complaints instead of the old static we have this many open versus closed.  Instead of percentage of complaints based on stage or lifecycle how about taking a look at time spent in those various states if you really want to understand how you are affecting the customer.   Ascribing to a set of service level agreements sounds great but what are you measuring in that space?  How well you “think” you are performing against your own set of guidelines or should you be more focused on how you are doing against customer expectations?

As an operation leader, I want to understand my universe now, not wait for agreement on multiple interpretations of the data so make sure your reporting provides the proper context and that readers understand valuation dates, sources of the data and the drivers behind the business rules.  Illustrations are great but some people get them and some don’t so determine what the story is and make sure you tell it before someone else does.   Provide the proper perspective and seek input from SMEs along the way.   If you really want to understand why customers are complaining leverage your unstructured data, gauge their feedback and follow with detractors directly.  Don’t wait until they cancel their business, and then ask what we could have done to keep you.

Another area where companies tend to shy away from is sharing the bad news.   Imagine missing out on a chance to build consumer trust by sharing the results of their feedback and the action steps you plan to take to deliver on improved outcomes.   I owned responsibility for internal and external sales comp in a previous assignment and was asked to assess disconnects in service to our broker community by interviewing our commission processors and sales associates.   Sales were down 40% and everyone was focusing on price.   We couldn’t give the business away.   While everyone else was focused on quotes and closing ratios, I reached out to our service teams and secured what I called a reality check report.   Give me the top 10 highest volume of calls by employer and the lowest and I went out to meet with those companies to understand the differences.   That effort resulted in applying streamlined steps that were available to smaller employers to large cases including expedited case installation, claim handling and specialty holding tanks for complex claims and calls that needed to be triaged.  If you are leading an ops organization and you are not having direct discussions with the companies or customers you serve, then something is broken.   So let’s get moving and get it fixed.

About the Author

Gary Garris has spent twenty plus years working in the insurance and financial services arena leading voice of the customer and sales initiatives. He has a well-rounded operational background in underwriting, sales, auditing, claims and application development. Gary has a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and received his Master’s degree from Thomas Edison College. Gary is the author of Odd Man Out Fighting for Visibility in Corporate America. You can contact Gary at

Categories: Customer Centricity

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