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How Can Complaints Data Drive Continuous Improvement?

How Can Complaints Data Drive Continuous Improvement?


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How Can Complaints Data Drive Continuous Improvement?

Sep 28, 2023

Bharath Surapaneni
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The Australian financial services industry is faced with ever-increasing complaint volumes, with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (ACFA) reporting that it received 72,358 complaints last year, a 3% rise compared to the previous year.

With this rise in complaints, comes the inevitable rise in volumes of complaints data—data which can hold the key to unlocking valuable business insight. Too often kept within the complaints bubble, complaints data has the potential to deliver a wealth of useful information right across the business and is worthy of a seat alongside other key pieces of management information (MI).

The True Value of Complaints Data

Contrary to popular opinion, complaints data goes beyond merely reporting how many people complained and the subject of their complaints—being an all-seeing eye across the customer journey, delivering crucial visibility into where the business is lacking, not only when it comes to customer service but in terms of products and other services, too.

Complaints data has the potential to provide a comprehensive view of what’s wrong and where, helping financial services to put in place a robust plan of action to address the very issues that complaints data identified. It’s by achieving these continuous improvements that financial services organizations can reduce complaint volumes and secure better outcomes for those complaints they receive, as well as potentially preventing similar complaints from arising in the first place, if the fundamental issues are addressed.

What this can all amount to is increased customer loyalty and, ultimately, increased profits. Whereas the complaints function has traditionally been traditionally viewed as a cost center, when used correctly and effectively, complaints data can actually help to protect and even boost revenue streams.

However, to make these improvements means moving beyond standard reporting processes, focusing less on operational reports, and more on building a culture where data-driven decision-making is the norm. It warrants a mature approach to data gathering and analysis, as well as an intelligent application of the insight that can be derived from the data, making sure decisions grounded in data lie at the very heart of the wider business.

Complaints in Collaboration with the Entire Business

To secure the maximum value from complaints data, it needs to be taken out of the complaints bubble, extracted from a complaint management system perhaps, and amalgamated with the rest of the MI that forms such a vital part of decision-making elsewhere in the business. And, this shouldn’t be limited to organizational information. Data in the public domain, such as industry statistics, can prove highly useful too.

For example, it’s possible to compare business data to industry averages, viewing organizational data and publicly available information through the lens of vulnerability. This enables the business to see if the numbers of vulnerable customers nationally are reflected in its complaints data, ensuring that the business is capturing customer vulnerability correctly. If yes, then good; if not, then why not?

What makes all the difference, is taking all this information and applying analytical expertise. The right skills and toolsets, in combination with comprehensive data, can help to glean the invaluable business insight that’s there for the taking.

Data analysis should no longer just be a ‘nice to have’ and this is reflected in regulatory changes. Indeed, under RG 271, firms are now told what exactly they should be reporting on, including the number of complaints received, the nature of complaints, complaint outcomes, any possible systemic issues that have been identified and any complaint trends that are evident. As well, RG 271 requires clear accountabilities for the complaint-handling function to be in place as well as in-depth, board-level visibility of complaints.

For customer vulnerability too, regulators are asking firms to demonstrate how they’ve leveraged their own data to understand if products and services are meeting the needs of their target market and customer base. In this instance, in-depth MI is needed to transparently demonstrate best practice, to show that fair and equitable outcomes are being provided for all customers, and justify complaint management actions regarding resolutions.

Insight as the Foundation for Continuous Improvements

It’s possible to have all the insight in the world but it’s only useful if it provides answers to the very questions that are keeping decision-makers awake at night. This means it’s crucial to ask questions of the data and the resulting insight. This could be a question as simple as, “What’s our operational performance like?” or something much more specific, such as “How does product x compare to product y when it comes to complaint resolutions with a certain customer demographic?”

The correct insight can be a pre-cursor to more accurate, better informed foresight. Using modeling and advanced scenario planning, it’s possible to incorporate information from across the business with complaints data to build a clearer picture of not just what the future holds for the business, but how the organization could and should react to an almost infinite number of possible scenarios.

By utilizing complaints data to its full potential, financial services businesses can use their data as an asset, guiding and informing not only complaints strategy but the wider business strategy, too. No longer is complaints data all about looking in the rear-view mirror. By bringing all business information together in one place, removing complaints data from what can often be an introspective view of only the complaints space, it’s possible to help the wider organization to make timely, well-informed and effective decisions not only today but for the future as well.

Good Data is the Key

However, for all this to work, complaints data needs to be good to begin with. It’s no longer possible to rely on multiple spreadsheets and system workarounds to deliver the data needed, in the format it’s needed in.

As businesses are recognizing the value to be gleaned from their complaints data, more organizations are turning to robust complaint management systems for help. The right CMS software captures every interaction along the customer journey, distilling this information into easily accessible reports that can be used as traditional standalone reports or amalgamated with wider MI to leverage the true potential of the data.

With the right complaint management system in place, in conjunction with robust analytics tools and skillsets, it’s possible to inform continuous improvements throughout the heart of the organization while showcasing the true value of complaints data through the invaluable insight that can be derived from complaints.

The Aptean Respond complaint management system can sit at the heart of this, delivering not only the functionality but the insight needed to leverage complaints data to achieve its full potential. Providing a broad range of tools for extracting in-depth complaints insight, including those RG 271-required insights on customer satisfaction and complaints metrics,

Aptean Respond can produce comprehensive regulatory reports using the ASIC IDR data dictionary. Above all, its interactive, customizable dashboards can provide at-a-glance visibility into the MI that matters the most, enabling financial services businesses to combine this vital information with MI from elsewhere in the business to achieve that all-important business-wide insight and foresight, building a strong platform for continuous improvements, benefiting customers and the business alike.

For more information on how Aptean Respond can help you to unlock the value of your complaints data, get in touch with our team of complaints management experts today.

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