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Management And Training

Measuring CRUMIE Complaints: Part Two

September 19, 2010
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Last month we started a discussion about convenience, repeat, urgent, mission-critical, image and employee (CRUMIE) complaints.

This month, we pick up with repeat complaints.

A repeat disappointment of the occupant''s expectation for service creates a loss of confidence in the service provider.

The consequences are that it raises the question about whether or not the service provider can be trusted.

While some service providers will respond to this type of complaint immediately, a response within 24 hours is a must.

Because this type of complaint is the second or third failure, training may not be the problem.

The problem is more likely ineffective complaint management systems and ineffective project management.

This type of service failure may take as long as 90 days to repair the loss of confidence in the service provider.

In a well-run service delivery system, this type of complaint might occur less than ½ of 1 percent of the time.

Urgent And Mission-critical

Urgent complaints are generally disruptive to the buyer''s work process, causing delays or requiring the buyer to alter what they do until the problem is corrected.

Slippery floors, flooded restrooms or overturned trashcans are typical urgent complaints.

This type of complaint can also be caused by a failure that is out of the control of the service provider.

This is important because it represents a great opportunity for the service provider to create a reputation for rescuing the buyer from a difficult or embarrassing situation.

While this type of complaint occurs infrequently, there is generally a very high emotional — and sometimes financial — cost to the buyer.

So, response is very important and should be immediate — within the hour.

Mission-critical complaints are the most serious type of complaint.

It can be caused by a critical misstep by the service provider or an event outside of their control.

This type of failure effectively halts the operation of the company, preventing its ability to conduct business.

This type of failure is not expected to occur during the course of everyday events, so it''s rare to experience this type of complaint.

Response to this type of complaint must be immediate and comprehensive.

Mission-critical failures can be caused by poor service provider training, ineffective processes or inept management and supervision.

The best response to this complaint is prevention.

By understanding the threats to the business model of the buyer company, the service provider can focus on creating processes that prevent catastrophic interruption of the buyer''s operations.

Image And Employee

Image complaints do not generally cause a business shutdown of the buyer''s operations.

Nonetheless, a cluttered, litter-filled or dusty entryway may turn away some customers, or at least convey an unhealthy work environment.

The buyer company may suffer a loss of reputation in the eyes of its customer or a loss of pride from its own employees.

While this type of failure might occur less than 1/100 of 1 percent of the time, quick response on the part of the service provider is essential.

Failure to quickly and effectively resolve this complaint can undermine the buyer-contractor relationship.

Employee complaints about the contractor''s staff are often not related to work performance itself, but can be triggered by employee appearance, conduct or even theft.

Quality management is founded on the idea that changing work processes is justified by the force of a common cause, special cause or just because rationale.

In this case, an employee complaint may require service provider action just because the buyer asks for it.

Whatever the rationale, the image and credibility of the service provider is at stake.

Failure to respond effectively could undermine the trust of the buyer that the service provider really has the buyer''s interest at heart.

While this type of complaint does not occur often, the emotional investment of the buyer can be high, and the service provider should respond within 24 hours.

Ineffective hiring processes, unclear work rules, poor supervision or ineffective management by the service provider can create this type of complaint.

The CRUMIE complaint classification model provides a framework for understanding and prioritizing the service provider''s response and management of the buyer''s priorities.

Further, this model also helps facility occupants, managers and other buyer staff to set different expectations for different types of complaints.

This is important because it is a well-founded belief that the key to exceptional occupant satisfaction is how expectations are set and managed.

The service provider may have no control over certain things, but a timely response to occupant complaints and ability to re-set expectations will be keys to success.


Vincent F. Elliott is the founder, president and CEO of Elliott Affiliates, Ltd. of Hunt Valley, MD, www.ealtd.com. He is widely recognized as the leading authority in the design and utilization of best practice performance-driven techniques for janitorial outsourcing and ongoing management.

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