Headlines: October 16th, 2000

A survey of eight major sectors of UK business by training consultants TMI for the Institute of Customer Service found that while the importance of complaints was understood intellectually, this was not backed up in practice. This practical undervaluing of complaints has a knock on effect on how they are dealt with. Some 33% of employees surveyed in local government and regulatory bodies said they were less than satisfied with the level of training provided in the handling of customer complaints. A similar number were not satisfied with the recognition they receive for dealing with complaints.None of the sectors surveyed reached world class standards. It was found that many complaint procedures were cumbersome, restrictive and costly. Although complaints are regularly monitored, they are seldom used to educate or improve. Organisations were seen to be paying lip service to customers and their complaints and a lack of customer focus in the design of systems and procedure is in itself a cause for complaint.

The top complainers are in the 50 – 65 age group. The under 21s complain the least. Complainants frequently want acknowledgement that their complaint is valid and that something will be done, rather then compensation.