Consumer Complaints are Business Opportunity
Complaints don’t have to be bad for a brand....but a poorly handled complaint could be detrimental. It could be an opportunity to win back a customer and gain positive word-of-mouth if handled properly.
Why to set up Consumer Ombudsman
If the complaints are handled inappropriately there will be an overall negative impact on the company. Companies may not only lose one but may lose hundreds of potential customers through negative publicity, as many consumers will mention this to friends and social media and the overall negative impact on the company might be greater than first thought.
Consumers remain loyal to brands when they feel safe and empowered with them
Consumers should continue to feel empowered to raise their complaints to the companies and they should have easy access to an independent Ombudsman if not satisfied.
There should always be a straightforward way to pass the balance of power back to aggrieved consumer in a controlled environment.
When consumer expectations of a product or service are not met, the disappointment can lead to anger and frustration in the absence of a robust complaint handling mechanism of the company.
While the perceived hassle of complaining becomes overwhelming for many consumers, this poor experience can leave many feeling helpless, and may put them off completely.
If the consumers are not given a forum to vent out their anger through an independent neutral complaints redressal body, many feel disillusioned with business and the end result is always bad for businesses.
On the contrary, if consumer gets satisfied and happy about the complaint redressal system of a company, particularly through an external independent ombudsman office, they become the brand ambassadors.
Consumers will obviously have low levels of trust and confidence in businesses that do not take their complaints seriously.
This illustrates very clearly that a wellhandled complaint can have far reaching benefits for a company and its brand.
Consumers think more highly of a business that handles complaints efficiently. Many also see the benefits of companies providing access to a neutral independent ombuds to handle complaints and say they would be more likely to buy a product or service from such a company.
Research shows that millions of complaints are ignored or mishandled every year and businesses loose these customers even if they had a strong product.
More and more companies are signing up with Consumer Disputes Redressal Portals to build customer trust and loyalty.
The inclusion of Consumer Disputes Redressal Portals, the external independent dispute redressal body forms an essential ‘next step’ in the Complaint Handling Process of any organization, for complaints where resolution has not been reached despite the best efforts of the customer and the company.
The role of Ombudsman Office is to provide redress where required and to help companies repair their relationships with customers.
Helping Companies Learn From Complaints
CDOS uses complaint based insight to make recommendations to the companies to improve procedures and customer service standards, and to prevent similar complaints in the future. Its solutions are tailored to work with each company's complaints process, offering an extension to their existing procedures. CDOS team of highly skilled, informed and motivated complaint handler's work with companies to ensure that the business can maintain and build on its relationship with the complainant.
CDOS is mandated to set the standards in dispute handling and to pass on the lessons learnt to participating companies. Many disputes handled by CDOS are not about the alleged error made by a company but about the way the company has dealt with the error and subsequent complaint. If CDOS can help companies to identify where they are going wrong, before the complaint comes to CDOS, it is better for the companies and their customers.
The Dispute Redressal Process
The process involves redressal through the internal dispute resolution mechanism of the company at the first stage and when the dispute remains unresolved even after a 60 days period, the consumer can lodge a complaint with CDOS.
Complaint-handling by the business Typically, there is a specified process (and time limit) for the handling of complaints by businesses – so that as many disputes as possible can be resolved quickly and the number of disputes that have to be referred to CDOS is minimized.
The complainant must complain first to the business (orally or in writing). To which the business is required to provide a written response within a specified time. That written response must tell the complainant that, if he remains dissatisfied, he/she can refer the complaint to CDOS. If the complainant is still dissatisfied with the written response, or if the business fails to issue a response within the specified time, the complainant can go to CDOS.
Complaint-handling by the Consumer Ombudsman
Customers can directly submit the complaints.
If a complaint is referred to the CDOS, it is first screened to check that it is within the jurisdiction and terms of service. If the complaint is within jurisdiction, the case may then be resolved in a variety of ways.
In some cases it is clear at the outset that a full investigation is not justified, for example where: Ÿ the case has already been decided by a court Ÿ the case raises legal issues that can only be resolved by a court, or the business has already offered as much redress as CDOS would award for what the complainant says the business did wrong.
Some cases can be resolved quickly and fairly by mediation - where, assisted by an independent view from the ombudsman about the circumstances in dispute, a settlement can be negotiated that both the consumer and the business agree.
Investigation and recommendation:
If the case is not resolved by mediation, the investigator will investigate - taking an active role in deciding what evidence is required and calling for it - and will then recommend an outcome. In a majority of cases, both parties accept the recommendation.