投诉在我们的日常生活中司空见惯，而处理客户投诉成为销售人员的工作内容之一。在一般的公司是销售人员处理投诉，因为客户理所当然的认为货是找销售买的，钱也是支付给销售的，或者至少是支付到销售提供的账号内，因而出了问题，或者有什么不满意当然也是销售负责了。就像采购拿公司的钱去给公司购置了商品，如果质量或者交期达不到要求，当然也应该是采购出面去跟催和协调。在一些有特殊要求比如汽车，食品，药品，化妆品等需要监管的行业则通常设置有特定的售后和客服热线。ISO9000系列中有“GBT 19012-2008 质量管理 顾客满意 组织处理投诉指南”来引导和规范投诉处理的方法及常规流程，但其内容更适用于零售行业。
Complaints are common in our daily life, and dealing with customer complaints has become part of salesmen’s work. In ordinary firms, salesmen are the ones to deal with complaints. Since goods are sold by and money is paid to the salesman, or paid at least to the account provided by the salesman, customers take it for granted that they should turn to the salesman for help once any problem or dissatisfaction arises. For example, a purchaser goes to purchase goods for the company with the company’s catipal, and he will also be the one to negotiate or follow up the process if the quality or delivery falls short of requirement. Some industries with special regulations such as the automobile, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics are often equipped with after-sales services and customer service hotlines. In ISO9000 series standards, there is “ISO 19012-2008 Quality Management—Customer Satisfaction—Guidelines for Complaints Handling in Organizations” to guide and standardize the ways and conventional processes of handling complaints, which is, however, more applicable to the retail industry.
Salesmen, connecting directly with customers, cannot get fully engaged in problem investigation and adressing personnally. In response to the complaints reported by salesmen or customer service center, the supplier management or the purchaser should pass that message to the supplier immediately. If the company produces itself, it will also return the flaw materials which are identified in manufacturing and receiving inspection processes to suppliers. But here the author cares more about the negative feedback from customers.
Complaints can be made on everything, varying from delivery to service, or from price to quality. Since our focus is on supplier quality management, we will firstly talk about quality-related complaints. Of course, this sort of complaints will be inevitably entangled with such terms as price, service, delivery and quantity，and complaints can be involved in every linkage in the whole product lifecycle. The author, however, would rather attribute the quality problems occurring in project phase to communication, service and technical capability than regard them as complaints. Concerning the end of the so-called project phase, different companies have different descriptions. Some refer to a passed trial production, some to the first batch production and inspection, and others to the confirmation of samples. This will not form the focus of our discussion.
哪个部门是发投诉给供应商的最合适部门？看公司结构的设置，各有优缺点。从联络来看，与供应商打交道最多的部门最方便，因为经常打交道，相互熟悉，所以采购人员相对合适，但是他们常常并不是技术的专家，因此对投诉问题的描述和解释并不会十分清晰，况且他们的核心职责是保障交货，对于供应商后续的改善措施也并不会是他们的关注重点；从利害关系来看，谁给生意，定价格，谁最合适，从这个角度看，采购人员不一定最合适，在大多数传统采购架构（相对战略采购）的公司，价格是其他人事先定好的，生意也是其他部门定好的，采购人员只是负责订单的执行，因此他们其实对供应商没有特别大的影响力，因此反而是产品部或者技术部等更加合适，但是有一点如果是交货的数量成整箱的不一致，采购人员倒是在公司发正式的投诉给供应商之前有必要好好的检查一下是否存在之前沟通上的偏差-这并不奇怪，因为极有可能本来要一批货一起走的，结果因为各种原因最后被分批发走了，这不能算作给供应商的投诉。但是产品部或者技术部往往更加关心产品设计如何更加优化来避免今后的失误，反而遗漏了短期的措施以确保及时供应；从系统性的跟踪验证供应商的改善措施以及协调内外部的围堵措施来看，非供应商质量管理人员莫属了，因为他们的专长是系统思维，但是他们又有一种替别人背黑锅的感觉 – 不是我犯的错，结果总是被一圈人追着要货物，要赔偿，要讨债。如果三个甚至更多部门都同供应商对口来反馈投诉，又反而给供应商一个错误的信号 – 到底我应该听谁的？因此如何设计这个对口环节，看公司的具体情况来定。然而无论哪个岗位被定义为主要的窗口，其实都不影响整个投诉的处理是以团队的形式存在的，只是有主有辅而已。
Which is the most suitable department to deliver the complains to the supplier? Judging from the company structure, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In terms of communication efficiency, the department that deals with the supplier most suits the job best. In this sence, the purchasers are the right person because they and the suppliers are familiar with each other due to frequent interact. But the concern are that purchasers are often not specialists in technique, having no clear idea about the complaint issues and that their core responsibility lies in the guarantee of goods delivery, so the suppliers’ follow-up improvement measures will not take up their focus. In term of interests, that who signs the contract and makes the price is the most appropriate. In this respect, the purchaser is not necessarily the most appropriate. In most companies with a traditional purchasing framework (relates to strategic purchasing), the price and business are well set by other departments before purchasers just fulfill the orders. So they actually have no enough influence on suppliers; instead, the product development or technical department is more suitable for the job. But notice one thing that if there exists discrepancy by case in the quantity of delivery, it is the purchaser that should make a careful check on the possibility of previous communication deviation before a formal complaint is sent to the supplier by the company. This is not surprising: It is likely that goods to be shipped in the same lot are finally delivered by partial shipment due to various reasons, which can not count as a justification for a complaint for the supplier. In contrast, the product development or technical department who often cares more about how to optimize product design in order to avoid future mistakes may overlook short-term measure to ensure timely supply. Judging from the ability to systematically track and check the improvement measures by suppliers and carry out containment action to coordinate the internal and the external, the job cannot be taken up by anyone other than the supplier management, who thinks in a systematic way. But they might feel themselves holding the bag for others—it is not my fault; why is that I shoud be the one to be claimed to on goods, compensation and debts. If three or more departments feedback at the same time to the supplier, they give the supplier a wrong signal – who should I listen to? So design of the feedback linkage shoulddepend on the specific situation. However, no matter which one is nominated as the main contact department, it does not deny the fact that the whole complaint handling is processed by a team. The only difference lies in who should take the major responsibility and who does the minor.
Complaints arise in one of the following situations. It is something wrong either with the specification (here it refers to all kinds of product technical documents or sealed samples), or with the product (here it refers that product performance is not up to the standard), or with both the specification and the product. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with the two factors and complaints tend to be ungrounded. If both the two factors are wrong, technique is often the major cause. It is likely that technical errors give rise to wrong specifications. For example, a customer buys a batch of screws, only to find that the screw head is so soft that the driver slips easily. Meanwhile, the customer notices that in the specification list there is no information on the screws’ hardness. Although being unslipped is a default quality of a screw, a clear instruction on the product’s application conditions is still necessary. In the second scenario, the specification may be right while the product is not up to the standard. In the above case, again, if there is a clear product instruction on application conditions but the screw slips still, the quality management is ought to take efforts to find out the causes with all kinds of quality management tools. In the third scenario, the truth is that the product is good in performance while something is wrong with the specification. It is often because the employees do their work with experience, not following standardized regulation. They just do it right “luckily”. In the fourth one, whereas both the specification and the product are right, the customers won’t feel content. Such discontent may originate from wrong application. The customer is always right; there is no need to conflict with them. Instead, this is an occasion to test the communication proficiency of the service personnel. Drawers are designed for storing, but there are some people who use them as stairs to reach something in a high position. If the person’s weight does not surpass the rated weight limit but the drawers fall down, it also counts as a quality problem. But if the person is so fat that the drawers collapse and the person fall down, it does not count as a quality problem.
It needs skills to handle complaints, which, if properly handled, can strengthen customer satisfaction and consolidate customer loyalty. It is the same with a nation to maintain social and international stability. As a nation adapts conciliating, legal and political methods for trouble, dispute and conflict respectively in handlingthe people’s daily issues, the author accordingly divide complaint handling into three levels: the relation level, the logical level and the legal level.
At the relation level, minor issues that don’t cause severe damages to customers or lay duties on suppliers are dealt with. They are mainly consistent with the third and fourth scenarios mentioned above. Complaints at this stage are mainly made by e-mail or orally. As for application problems, it is something that customers won’t inform the supplier of in most cases. As the saying goes, “It is an ill bird that fouls it’s own nest.” If the customers have good relations with the supplier personally, they may turn to him or her for consolation.
At the logical level, complaints mainly come from the first and second scenarios. Whether product complaints are caused by quality problems or by technical ones, it calls for meticulous analysis for the reasons and rectifying and precaution measures. Respect the fact so as to avoid escalating problems that result in personal attacks. A man of strong logical ability might get the counterpart speechless by arguing. But there is no need to make others lose face completely since this sort of complaints handling is also based on the relation level. The aim of communication is to solve problems, so we should give others an out. At this level, a popular practice is to undertake a “corrective action and analysis report”.More advanced is the 8D report. It is called the 8D report because westners divided the process from problem analysis to problem solving into 8 steps, each one named with a word begins with “D”.
At the legal level, complaints to be dealt with are those cannot be settled at the above two levels. Generally speaking, the pattern by which people handle complaints is that “…theoretically we have done nothing wrong, or both sides should bear some duties. But in view of the solid cooperative foundation and future expectations, we would like to…” which is a combination of reason and emotion. It is not until things go to its worst that people will resort to the law. Westerners value reason while Chinese people emotion. The “reason” here means principle and emotion means human sentiment. The Chinese word “ acceptable by both reason and emotion” shows the deep relations between the two. However, once things reach this level, it implies that complaints long remained unsettled. In this regard, much evidence needs to be carefully maintained. The leaders will not be just quality or technical personnel, but those engaged in strategic purchasing and business relations management and even legal representatives.
Whatever the type and grade of a complaint, it requires the complaint management to be empathy and willing to talk, put him or herself in other people’s shoes to consider problems, and address the counterpart’s name and express regret for what the customer has gone through. A complaint will not end until the customer is satisfied.