Strategic Planning of Complaint Management
Complaint management has a high strategic potential for customer relationship management as well as quality management. However, to exploit this potential successfully the head of complaint management has to undertake careful strategic planning for this area. This planning process includes three steps: strategic state analysis, development of strategy options and strategy evaluation and selection.
The strategic state analysis encompasses the two sections environment analysis and functional area analysis. With the help of the environment analysis the most relevant aspects of the macro environment must be examined (such as the expectations of complainants, the complaint management of other companies, or legal, societal and economic external factors). Similarly, issues around the micro environment within the company must be investigated (such as the competitive strategy of the company or the internal target groups of complaint management).
In principle, complaint management can choose between four strategy options that can be distinguished according to the primary goal (customer retention versus efficiency) and the direction of the perspective (external versus internal): ‘complaint factory’, ‘relationship amplifier’, ‘quality control’ and ‘satisfaction lab’. Two basic strategic options can be combined into hybrid variants: ‘complaint factory’ and ‘quality control’ form together an ‘efficiency first strategy’; the options ‘relationship amplifier’ and ‘satisfaction lab’ form the ‘customer first strategy’.
In the final stage of the planning process the strategic options must be evaluated and a specific option has to be selected. Afterwards, it is important to investigate whether the complaint management in its current state is able to meet the strategic requirements. If the actual strategic profile differs from the target profile, the consequences for the complaint management tasks and the internal framework conditions must be explained and necessary changes must be initiated.
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