Can you trust an outsource partner to manage your complaints? – by Gary Gilburd

The key to overall success is finding a partner that shares common values and ethos with your business, whose management you can trust and work with, where the outsourcer will positively enhance your brand and reputation.

At a point where the customer experience is already challenged, and significant consequences could result if badly managed (both reputational and financial), I’m sure we all agree that complaints need to be resolved quickly, thoroughly, fairly and professionally.

It is therefore, essential that those managing complaints have robust systems and processes, highly skilled agents, clear authority, strong management and insightful reporting which includes analysis pointing to the root cause of complaints.

With so much at stake, can an outsource partner be trusted to manage complaints on your behalf? Initial feelings from most key stakeholders are that it’s ‘too high risk’. This is a very typical response.

In order to truly weigh up this question, some careful and honest consideration of internal capabilities must be undertaken – taking into account current performance within complaint league tables – whilst having a clear understanding of outsourcer capabilities for comparison.

I have heard many different reasons why companies decide to explore the option of outsourcing elements of their complaint handling: Insufficient skilled and experienced staff –as a consequence of recruitment challenges in the post-Covid era or high attrition; Increasing volumes due to the rise in the cost of living and customers challenging payment requests; Internal systems are less than ideal – with restrictions on change requests meaning it may be some time before improvements can be made; Processes do not have sufficient controls – resulting in ‘black holes’ and crucial deadlines or next actions being missed; Audit trails are incomplete – increasing risk of repercussions from regulators; Limited reporting capabilities – leading to limited oversight and insufficient root cause / trend analysis in addition to difficulties managing productivity.

Where such challenges exist internally, partnering with a specialist outsourcer – one that has the scale and focus required to invest heavily in developing systems and training programmes specific to complaint management – could demonstrably reduce overall risk.

Of course, such internal challenges will not resonate with everyone. Many businesses have excellent complaint handling teams and may only consider outsourcing as a means of maintaining high standards during peak periods, through overflow arrangements, or simply to reduce costs.

Whatever the reason for considering outsourcing, the key to overall success is finding a partner that shares common values and ethos with your business, whose management you can trust and work with, where the outsourcer will positively enhance your brand and reputation. Partnering with a company that has a proven track record and strong client references will further reduce risk.

Ultimately, outsourcing complaint management will always be ‘too high risk’ for some. There is no right or wrong; it’s a highly subjective topic.

So, would you outsource your complaints?

At Sigma Connected we have over 4000 highly experienced customer experience agents working on behalf of our clients including several well-known household brands. Working a range of complaints from Expressions of Dissatisfaction through to Ombudsman and Executive complaints, our Complaint Handlers are client dedicated, enabling greater knowledge depth and a strong cultural alignment.

We have also developed our own in-house complaints management system as an optional overlay to client systems. Our system provides structure to complaint handling and ensures the right action is taken at the right time, in line with regulatory and client agreed timescales; delivers management information and reporting, which helps root cause analysis, performance management and benchmarking; and can also be linked to client systems to drive further efficiencies.

Outsource partners also bring the benefit of having insight and experience into the different techniques around complaint handling to get the best performance out of the team and the best experience for customers. At Sigma Connected we always aim to drive the resolution further up-stream so complaints are resolved at first touch in the customer service teams.  We regularly provide feedback to service teams on how they can avoid a complaint escalating in terms of severity and timescales to resolve. We can simply group the improvements into:-

  • Process
  • Skill
  • Culture

Focussing in on these 3 areas will drive success in reducing incoming complaints and improving the time to closure on complaints overall.

We would be happy to chat through your challenges and even set up a proof of concept to see how we compare to your in-house teams.

About the author

Gary Gilburd is the CEO of the Sigma Connected Group.

You can find Gary on LinkedIn.


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