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by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: December 7, 2016


Whether from customers or employees, all companies get complaints. Often, it’s how the company chooses to deal with them that sets it apart from its peers. Complaint management software can provide a competitive advantage, turning the inevitable complaints from a potential PR problem into actionable advice. In this guide, we’ll answer the following questions:

What Is Complaint Management Software?
What Are the Benefits of Complaint Management Software?
What Are the Common Features of Complaint Management Software?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Complaint Management Software?

Complaint management (CM) software helps record and collate complaints as customers and employees report them. CM software can be purchased as a standalone product, as a component module for existing software or as one of several applications in an integrated software suite. It is used by businesses in two general contexts:

  1. Outward-facing. In call center scenarios, to record complaints and problems as reported by customers.
  2. Inward-facing. In internal help desk scenarios, to record issues as reported by the company’s own employees.

What Are the Benefits of Complaint Management Software?

Complaint management software is used to collect and organize reports of issues, complaints and feedback—which can serve many purposes, depending on the context. Here are a few example scenarios that illustrate the benefits of this software for different types of businesses. CM software can be used to:

Improve customer service. In this scenario, a customer is having a problem with his laptop, but it surfaces only rarely and in a very particular set of circumstances. The first time it occurs, he calls the company and speaks with a tech support agent—who offers no solution. The second time the problem occurs, the customer calls and explains the problem again. The first support agent he speaks with can’t help, and escalates the call. When connected with the third support agent, the customer needs to explain the problem again, as well as describe its previous occurrences.

Here, CM software could have collected and organized the caller’s explanations, so he wouldn’t have had to continually repeat himself. Further, it’s likely that other customers were having the same problem. CM software might have been able to help support agents identify the pattern and, potentially, offer a solution sooner.

Improve quality control. In a manufacturing company, there’s a problem with a new product: Quality control misses it, and the product goes to market. Slowly, reports of the problem start trickling in from end users. But because of the technical nature of the problem, it manifests in different ways and the reports aren’t always the same. CM software could help identify the source of the problem by presenting a collated view of the reports, perhaps isolating them to one particular factory or product revision. The company would then be able to address the issue faster.

Improve IT support. In this example, a multinational company has a problem with internal conference calls getting disconnected. Employees in different global offices report issues to their local IT staff. Without CM software, the IT staff in each office might troubleshoot the problem locally, starting with the hardware and local networks. But with CM software, the IT staff would see that the same problem is being reported in many different branch offices. They could then eliminate the local hardware and networks as possible causes. They’d be able to isolate and resolve the problem more quickly.

Assurx’s complaint management software, showing metrics by which complaints are analyzed and tracked

Track feedback in real-time. An online shopping site is trying to make its site more user-friendly. No matter how they rearrange and redesign elements of their website, there are always people emailing, online-chatting and calling in with questions about such things as return policies and shipping rates. By collecting all these communications together, categorizing them and presenting them as they arrive, CM software would show the company how its site’s small redesign changes were affecting the customer experience.

Maintain compliance and prevent lawsuits. If a company produces a flawed product and receives many complaints about the flaw, but does not address them, it can be held liable for negligence. This scenario occurs most often in industries such as automobile or medical device manufacturing, where product safety is particularly important. CM software can be used to closely monitor customer complaints for regulatory or other legal issues in industries where compliance is vital.

What Are the Common Features of Complaint Management Software?

Complaint management software can include a small variety of features and applications, including but not limited to:

Automated complaint processing Automatically turns newly arrived complaints into trouble tickets that will go through the company’s standard ticket resolution procedures.
Workflow guidance Ensure that all employees handle complaints according to company policy, by guiding them through each necessary workflow process.
Compliance monitoring Ensure that complaints are managed in compliance with any applicable governmental regulations or industry standards.
Alerts and reporting Quickly summarize complaints received during a specific time period or for a specific issue, or automatically alert staff when predetermined metrics are met or exceeded

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Understanding what type of complaint management software you need begins with understanding what types of complaints your company receives. There are industry-specific needs and governmental regulations that can help focus the CM software selection process. Examples include:

Finance. Banks, mortgage lenders and student loan programs are subject to oversight by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has requirements for how complaints are handled and even publicized.

Healthcare. Medical device manufacturers need to manage complaints to maintain compliance with the Food and Drug Administration. They're required to “establish and maintain procedures for receiving, reviewing and evaluating complaints.”

HappyFox screenshot Screenshot of Happyfox Hospital help desk software. Help desk and complaint management software are often integrated together

Additionally, buyers need to be aware of which channels customers use to register complaints. Complaints can come via phone, email, fax, registered mail even text message. Identifying which channels are to be managed can further focus the CM software selection process. Most buyers, however, will be looking for multi-channel support.

Market Trends to Understand

When searching for and reviewing CM software, there are a few market trends you should be aware of. Here are two that stand out:

Shift towards integrated suites. Broadly speaking, business software falls into one of the following two categories:

  1. Best-of-breed. This is a standalone application.
  2. Integrated suite. This is multiple software applications bundled within the same package.

Complaint management software is increasingly sold as a component of a larger integrated suite. This trend is a logical direction, given that CM software works closely with other company software applications and suites, such as those used for customer relationship management, help desk and call center management.

Shift towards Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. Traditionally, software was purchased as physical copies and installed on-site on a company’s own computers (what is known as “on-premise” deployment). The SaaS deployment model does not require any on-site installation, as the software is delivered as a service over an Internet connection and paid for on a subscription basis.

The broad category of Customer Relationship Management software, under which CM software is categorized, has been moving successfully to the SaaS model for several years.

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