Posted on 15th August, 2017

Opinion: The perfect complaints storm

James Walker blog

How to spot complaints and customer issues

Complaining can often be seen as an art form. The more eloquent you are, the better the outcome you receive; the higher you take your complaint, the better the outcome delivered; the more channels you use, the more you are noticed. That’s the perception of many consumers when it comes to complaining. So how do you ensure all consumers are treated equally and fairly? It’s not always the complaint that shouts loudest that is most serious. But how else can you tell how serious a complaint is?



There is a strong relationship between the number of attachments on a complaint and customer dissatisfaction (we’ve seen up to 200 attachments sent with a complaint, but the number of customers sending these is tiny).  The number of cases halves for each additional attachment and for each additional attachment there’s a 10% increase in customer frustration.


Day of the week

We see interesting patterns emerge in relation to complaints and days of the week, but this data changes throughout the seasons. During the summer cases are least likely to be raised on a Friday and Saturday, with consumers starting to raise more issues again by Sunday, reaching a weekly high on a Monday. During spring, however, the biggest days for raising complaints are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.



The relationship between seasons and complaints varies depending on the kind of issue that is being raised. Packaged bank account complaints and other banking issues are most likely to be raised between January and March. Issues around flights are most common in the summer months, with September being the busiest month for issues relating to holidays. In-store shopping has a 30% increase in complaints between October and December, whilst online shopping has a 45% increase in issues during the same period. Issues relating to dining remain at consistent levels throughout the year.



So, does the type of device a complaint is raised on tell us anything interesting? Simply put, yes. More serious complaints are raised on devices with better/larger keyboards, like laptops and desktops. This makes sense as you’d want to make the extra effort to ensure you are understood when making a serious complaint. Larger keyboards are more convenient and accurate when writing in more detail. When we analyse the number of complaint related words used per device we can see that laptops are used for the most serious complaints and mobiles for the simplest issues. However, this doesn’t apply to issues related to travel, such as trains or flights, as people will often raise issues whilst still on the move.


Delete key

The University of Sheffield is looking into the relationship between typing accuracy and emotion, trying to understand whether a greater number of mistakes shows a greater level of frustration. We’ll have to wait and see what the results are from this.


So, what would the most serious complaint look like?

The worst consumer complaint would be one raised between Sunday and Tuesday from a desktop during the summer about an issue that is ongoing. If organisations can better understand the severity of a consumer’s issue they will be able to resolve it more effectively and retain the customer.