Customer Management

How to ensure that customer feedback reaches management

Post image feedback escalation

Efficient processing of complaints is important for optimally aligning a service department and responding quickly to customer inquiries. Not all complaints have to reach management. Nevertheless, management must also be informed about customer concerns and problems in order to be able to develop the company further.

A bad Complaint Management leads to dissatisfaction and thoughts of switching on the part of customers. On the other hand, good organization with fast and targeted complaints processing can even strengthen customer loyalty.

Not all feedback automatically ends up on the service manager's desk. Normally, about 80% of complaints are handled by employees themselves, without the involvement of their direct supervisors. Independent processing must also be a declared goal in order to be efficient in the After-Sales to be able to work. However, the reasons for complaints should be passed on to the management in order to be able to achieve targeted control and further development there.

So what factors influence the effective transfer of customer feedback from employees to management? A study from 2015 examined precisely this issue and came to the following conclusion:

Management Support

The support of direct superiors has a moderately positive influence on the willingness to pass on complaints. The reason for this is obvious. Employees must feel that it is valued when they openly communicate important customer concerns to superiors.

In addition, the impression should not be created that customer feedback is wasted at a higher level. It must be clear that information passed on is also used to better align service structures.

-> Influence: moderately positive


Empowerment is a double-edged sword. The number of escalations to management decrease the more you empower your employees to solve problems themselves. In principle, this is a good thing. However, care must be taken to ensure that the flow of customer feedback into management does not dry up.

This is because empowerment has a negative impact on the willingness to pass on complaint information to management. The more independent your hotline employees are, the more you need to think about process-based management of customer feedback to management. Only in this way is it possible to further develop the organization on the basis of the information provided.

-> Influence: moderately negative

Customer unfriendliness

One interesting finding is that customer unfriendliness has a negative effect on employees' willingness to pass on feedback. Initially, one would actually assume that an angry complaint would be more likely to escalate. In fact, however, the opposite is the case.

Employees fear that customers will complain about them to their superiors. In such cases, they often escalate the matter only if the customer explicitly requests it. Unfortunately, particularly important feedback is lost in this way. Because when the customer is at 180, usually a lot of things have actually gone wrong.

Provided we're not dealing with a classic angry customer who you can't please one way or the other. Here it is important that you work out a strategy for dealing with such problem customers. This topic has already been discussed in another Article dealt with in detail.

-> Influence: negative

Organizational Commitment

When your technicians feel a strong connection to your company, the willingness to forward the content of complaints to higher authorities increases. Employees then try to actively support management in improving processes and perceive customer feedback as an important lever.

Organizational commitment, however, is a very broad factor. Lack of commitment can have a variety of reasons. A large number of them are not within your direct sphere of influence as a service manager. So this point should not be given the highest priority. Also because the positive influence is only moderate.

-> Influence: moderately positive  

Customer orientation

The customer orientation of your company and especially of your after-sales organization is the most important influencing factor. At this point, you can also actually start with yourself. After all, sales and service have the strongest contact with the customer and shape the image of the company. It is therefore essential to be customer-oriented in after-sales.

This starts with the processes that ensure the fastest possible resolution of problems and ends with the attitude toward customers. In your organization, do you talk about customers or rather about problems/disruptions? Is there a focus on providing the customer with exactly the service they need?

-> Influence: strongly positive    

Make sure that customer feedback reaches you! This is the only way to ensure that your after-sales organization is well positioned in the long term. Make sure that your organization is highly customer-oriented and think about how you manage your problem customers to achieve this goal. These two factors are very easy for you to influence and have a positive effect. If escalation rates are low, you should also consider having customer feedback thematically prepared for you on a process-driven basis in order to keep up with the times and not lose contact with the installed base. - Dr. Simon Tonat

Sources: Walsh, Yang, Dose & Hille (2015): The Effect of Job-Related Demands and Resources on Service Employees' Willingness to Report Complaints ; Journal of Service Research, 18(2), pp. 193-209.

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