Today’s Regulators are a far cry from the swiftly deputised cowboys of 1st March 1878 who dispensed “justice” by rifle, and ended up finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Our 21st century Regulator tends to leave the six-guns at home when they go out looking for justice, and they appoint Ombudsmen, rather than Deputies, to extend their range and deliver services.
They do have some similarities though – a slightly mythical status in the minds of the population, with citizens aware that they are out there...but not quite sure where or how to get help, or even how they can help.
This pops up in the customer feedback left about companies who operate under regulation; telecommunications, water and energy utilities, banks, pharmaceuticals and so on. Unhappy customers can start to use unusual words to describe their feelings and intended actions. Words like “Ofwat”, “Ofcom”, “ombudsman” and “deadlock letter” start to crop up alongside more familiar themes of “complain” and “legal action”.
This matters to the regulated companies. Because whilst different industries have different Regulators, there is a surprisingly common theme in the way that they work; if a customer has a complaint, and they’ve exhausted the complaints process with the company in question, the customer can complaint to the ombudsman and the customer does not pay for this service.
Instead, the regulated company usually pays. Whether the complaint is upheld or not.
And then there is the impact of Regulators tracking and reporting on complaints, publishing results of customer service performance and even, in the case of the water industry, controlling water prices partly based on customer service performance measures which include complaints and escalated complaints.
Of course, a simple Customer Satisfaction score will tell you if a customer is happy or not. But the score can hide the potential severity of the unhappiness – it is only in the customers’ comments, in their own words, that the risk gets spelled out.
By asking customers how they feel, and why (in their own words) regulated companies can identify the key unhappy customers that they need to get to quickly, to head off an escalation and fix the problem.
This is especially true in the company’s own complaints process – MegaCorp may believe that the complaint is resolved and the matter put to rest, but if the customer doesn’t agree, then the regulations mostly side with the customer. If MegaCorp doesn’t ask people how they feel in their own words, the first thing that they know about the problem may well be the invoice from the ombudsman and then the newspaper headlines about falling customer service and rising complaints.
Getting it right – listening to the Voice of the Customer and acting on it in real time can help drive complaint reductions of 30% in just 12 months.
Now that’s something that makes you want to ride off into the sunset. How’ds that soun’ to you, pardner?
Take a look at our Infographic to find out how to capture customer feedback throughout the Customer Journey:
Ofwat (Customer Council for Water): http://www.ccwater.org.uk/