We’ve been managers, in previous lives and it’s never an easy job. If it was, we’d all be doing it, and putting it bluntly, we’ve all had one of those managers that makes lives a misery instead of easier.
For us, too often managers are expected to learn very quickly how to juggle priorities and opposing forces. Everyone thinks it’s just people managing, but it’s also technical know-how, while keeping one foot in the complaints handling water, so you can step in and talk to unhappy customers as and when needed. It’s also managing your team, but also managing your manager, and everyone that sits above you.
Phew! With all that going on, no wonder it’s difficult of us to give ourselves the thinking time we need to sit back just for a bit and look at what’s happening from a slightly different angle.
It’s pretty clear from the FCA’s perspective that it wants more from the industry, when it comes to complaints handling and doing less harm to consumers. That means there’s no wriggle room when it comes to how long firms have to deal with customer complaints.
This against the backdrop of increasing complaints numbers, and staff having to work in a very different way. And for a manager, that means it’s unlikely to be a walk in the park.
As so as managers, we need to add a few more things to the list of what we need to know, including, how we can continue to meet the FCA’s expectations, using the resources we have in the best way, while building our root cause analysis and customer insight capabilities and keeping our team and ourselves engaged, motivated and resilient. Flipping heck, that’s quite a bit!
Complaint handling is an art. You might well be thinking, ‘really?’, but it definitely is. It takes a unique skill set to be able to do that role, and do it well, day, after day. And, as a manager, you’ll know from experience when someone has it, and that sinking feeling when someone doesn’t. Yeah, we’ve been there too.
In many ways, the way a customer is made to feel throughout the handling of their complaint is more important than the actual outcome. Why? Because, in effect, their feelings about your complaints handling and staff will drive their behaviour and motivation towards referring their complaint on to an ombudsman above everything else. And if that happens it’s not good for you, your team, your firm or the customer. Good luck trying to recover that relationship.
Your complaint handling process needs to be easy and work for your customers. And your process and way of going about things needs to use every ounce (old school) of opportunity there is to keep your customers onside, engaged and more willing to agree with what you say.
It won’t surprise you as a manager to know there is no magical managerial formula, but there are things that you can do to make your life much easier in terms of keeping everything working well.
Sometimes it’s a question of being able to delegate some of the more mundane tasks to your team, to help them feel motivated. It could be having a spreadsheet to track quality checks and the like, so that you never end up with them piling up during the month. But, more often than not, it’s about being able to prioritise, plan and keeping your resilience up, so that you don’t become burnt out by the competing forces.
In our online academy we look at all the key areas you need to know about as a manager of a complaints handling team, including: