Wince and repeat


* The average UK consumer sacrifices two full days every year thanks to misdirected complaints to businesses and organisations
* On average, people have to tell their story 4 times in order to get a resolution


When it comes to complaining, we’re wasting our breath and our time, according to research for KANA Software. The survey found that the average UK consumer sacrifices two full days – or “Moandays” as one respondent called them – every year to repeated complaints. Even on the current minimum wage this time is worth a respectable £86.66.

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The average complaint against an organisation soaks up a colossal 3 hours and 54 minutes of our time, the poll found. Three quarters of those questioned have had to repeat themselves to different members of staff in order to have their complaint resolved. Almost 80% of those who had made a complaint had to then repeat themselves more than once. On average, people had to tell their story 4 times in order to get a resolution.

The poll also found that for now, email is the most popular tool for complaining to an organisation (42%), followed closely by the phone (36 %), and that 16% of all complaints across all age groups take place online – a figure that is growing. KANA predicts that social complaints will become the default procedure in most cases within five years.

“We all know the wearying feeling of repeating a complaint to several different people,” explained Moody. “The risk for companies is that every prolonged service interaction heightens consumer frustration and the likelihood they will share their experience with the masses. Without a sound plan, companies are effectively rehearsing consumers for 140-character performances to a large and sympathetic online audience. Time-poor consumers have short fuses and social media is the perfect conduit for communicating their grievances.”

An insight into the potential impact of social media-savvy complainants on organisations came recently when a disgruntled consumer paid for a promoted Tweet to raise the profile of his complaint to British Airways about his lost baggage. The Tweet went viral and generated substantial media coverage, causing significant damage to BA’s reputation.

“Passing the buck simply isn’t going to work as consumers get more adept at social media,” said David Moody, head of product strategy for KANA Software. “It is easier than ever for customers to make truly informed choices and it is also becoming easier for consumers to shift service providers if they are disenchanted. For example, new rules come into force this week that make it easier for consumers to change banks. The mantra for employees of banks and all customer-facing organisations ought to be ‘the buck stops here, or it gets spent somewhere else.’”

Separate KANA research has found that the average UK consumer now uses up to seven different channels of communication, indicating the risk that organisations face in coping with complaints.

“Complaining customers are already tech savvy and, for the first time in the history of technology, they’re ahead of most organisations that they complain to,” added Moody. “Technology exists to knit

all of these channels together so that customers don’t have to repeat themselves and can get a better, faster response. Companies are helped to better serve their customers by having the correct information at their fingertips including the context of each complaint, even across multiple communication channels. The organisations that will succeed in the future are those that are making the modest investment in this technology today.”

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