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Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Why Your Complaint Handling Strategy Has the Wrong Goal

Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Why Your Complaint Handling Strategy Has the Wrong Goal


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Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Why Your Complaint Handling Strategy Has the Wrong Goal

22 Apr 2024

Adam Dance
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Let’s rewind the clock to the early 1950s.

The small region of Solna in Sweden is rapidly expanding thanks to the growth of the Vattenfall national power company. But Vattenfall’s Director General, Åke Rusck, has a problem. Too many of his employees are being injured or killed in car accidents on their way to and from work. A rapid rise in recruitment means over 15,000 vehicles are travelling to the Vattenfall site each day, including 1,500 company cars.

Concerned about safety, Rusck contacts the manufacturers of Vattenfall’s company vehicles to ask whether some form of seatbelt can offer better protection. Some cars are fitted with a single strap that fastens across the waist, but this is ineffective in high impact collisions.

Most manufacturers are reluctant to help, claiming a seat belt can frighten motorists into thinking their vehicle isn’t safe. So Rusck asks two of his employees, Bengt Odelgard and Per-Olof Weman, to develop their own prototype.

Odelgard and Weman take inspiration from US Air Force research, concluding that a diagonal restraint will be more secure in the event of an accident. Their work catches the eye of Volvo’s CEO, Gunnar Engellau, who appoints former aircraft engineer Nils Bohlin to develop the concept further. Bohlin pairs his knowledge of airplane ejector seats with the Vattenfall prototype to create a three-point safety belt—and Volvo lets other car manufacturers use their design for free.

This chain of events invented the seatbelt fitted in every vehicle manufactured worldwide today, which has saved millions of lives and prevented countless injuries. And its roots can be traced back to one man, at one company, in one small part of Sweden.

Don’t Treat the Symptoms - Eliminate the Cause

The car seatbelt is arguably the greatest safety invention of the 20th century—but it may never have happened without Rusck’s decision to address the root cause of his problem.

If Rusck wasn’t so diligent about collecting data on workplace safety incidents, he would never have known the devastating impact of local car accidents on his workforce. Even armed with this knowledge, he could have suggested a different solution. Perhaps building more medical facilities nearby to allow for quicker treatment or improving support for those injured in a car crash during their commute.

But instead of making recovery easier, he wanted to prevent injuries and deaths from happening in the first place. And that meant developing a device that made cars safer in the event of a crash.

Efficiency Isn’t Everything

Rusck’s commitment to change is something that all businesses can learn from. The commercial world has become so obsessed with efficiency that we often focus on improving existing processes, rather than looking for the root cause of the problem.

This is certainly the case in complaints handling. Automating admin and digitizing responses means customer complaints can be processed quicker than ever before. But is that really the ultimate goal? Wouldn’t your financial services company rather be dealing with fewer complaints in the first place?

When we speak with businesses who want to improve their complaints handling process, their primary motivation is efficiency; they want to resolve complaints quicker, reduce the admin burden and keep watertight records in the event of regulatory referral.

Complaints management software can do all those things. But if you’re only doing those things, you’re missing a huge part of the software’s value. The customer data you’re collecting is a golden opportunity for valuable insight. It can enable you adopt a preventative strategy—identifying the process, product and service weaknesses that are driving complaints, so you can nip them in the bud.

By eliminating avoidable complaints, you’re spending less time, money and effort dealing with disgruntled customers. It’s not just the volume of cases you’re reducing, either. Fewer complaints mean fewer referrals to the regulator—lowering your risk of an audit and the cost and disruption it can involve. Prevention is better than cure.

The Ripple Effect

When Åke Rusck asked Odelgard and Weman to prototype the seatbelt, he was only setting out to reduce the number accidents involving Vattenfall employees. But the impact of their accident prevention device changed global road safety.

The insights you uncover via complaints management software can enable you to make data-driven improvements not just to complaints handling, but elsewhere in your business, changing your customer experience for the better. To unlock these game-changing results in your financial services business you’ll need purpose-built software, from a partner you can trust.

Enter Aptean. Our world-class complaint management system, Aptean Respond, can help you reduce customer complaint volumes, while also streamlining case handling processes for those that remain. With a host of advanced features, including customer vulnerability detection and root cause analysis functionality, the system can help you improve outcomes, boost customer satisfaction, improve efficiency and ace regulatory compliance.

Ready to stop treating the symptoms and revolutionize your complaints handling strategy? Download our latest eBook on How To Reduce Customer Complaints or get in touch with our experts today for a personalized demo to see Aptean Respond in action.

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