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Using Trend Analysis to Reduce Complaint levels

Posted by Tony-C, in Quality Management 09 October 2014 · 41,455 views

customer complaint trend analysis
Using Trend Analysis to Reduce Complaint levels

I’d like to start off my latest blog by quoting an interesting section in SQF Guidance regarding complaints:

 

‘Customer complaints provide an important measure of how well the SQF System is performing. By accurately recording customer complaint types, a supplier can objectively measure changes in their management system and show improvements in a process. Customer complaints may also show trends that have not been identified during processing and normal process control checks’.

 

‘Customer complaints may be the first record that an auditor asks to review when beginning the facility audit. Customer complaints can provide an auditor insight into the performance of the supplier’s SQF System and any trend areas that may require greater focus’.

 

The GFSI recognised standards do require auditors to take a close look at complaints, complaint levels and trends in customer complaint levels. They are a key performance indicator and are a reflection of the effectiveness of the food safety and quality management system.

 

I have been involved in many projects to improve product quality and reduce food complaint levels. One of the best tools for indicating where action for improvement needs to be applied is by analyzing your complaint data appropriately.

 

Whilst you can identify faults in your factory your customers are your 100% inspection service so respect their feedback. Whilst all of your customers will not complain when they find a problem so you will not capture all of your product faults you will however identify trends.

 

The first step is to collate all of your complaint data. Your data should then be categorised by product type, complaint type and size. Analyzing complaints by numbers alone will not give you a real picture of your performance. What you need to know is the proportion of complaints you are getting for each product. By far the most practical way of doing this is by using the sales volumes to calculate the proportion of complaints you get for each product. Some people use weight or volume such as complaints per tonne or 1000 Litres. My preference is to use complaints per million units.

 

So you analyze your complaint data product type, complaint type and size per million units. From this data you can easily spot the worst performing product lines.

 

You should then analyze the results for the worst performing products:

 

Are they all the same size?
Are they produced on the same filling machine/production line?
Is it the same type of complaint?

 

The answers to these questions will generate your corrective action plans. If products with the highest complaint levels are all the same size it could be a particular problem with that size of packaging. If it is all the same type of complaint then why are some product lines worse than others? If product from one particular production line is generating the highest number of complaints per million units then there must be a reason for this, it needs investigating. You should compare product performance and if there are significant differences you should ask the question why?

 

At this point complaint trends are useful. For example when I worked with fresh pasteurised milk sour complaints were higher in larger sized containers. The reason for this was not related to the quality of the product but the fact they took longer to consume and spent more time in and out of the fridge. Such products would be targeted for improvement projects as opposed to corrective action to remedy a problem area.

 

A few words of caution though, your analysis needs to take into consideration the comparative value of the products and the market. People are more likely to complain about higher value products. Also some retail customers are much better at reporting complaints from customers to the extent that I used to get 10 times the complaint levels from one particular retailer compared to another for exactly the same product.

 

My last tip the more data you analyze the better. In the past I have analyzed 3 years worth of data. Why? It gives a year on year performance so you can see if things have been improving or deteriorating and also it shows any effects of seasonality. For example it is not reasonable to compare summer levels of “off” complaints on a fresh product with winter levels. This is why in the Northern Hemisphere I would compare August complaint performance with the complaint levels for August in the previous year.

 

Each of our implementation packages comes with a free complaint analyser template.

 

GFSI Certification Packages

 

Appendix – Useful References

 

SQF Code:

 

2.1.5.2 Trends of customer complaint data shall be investigated and analyzed by personnel knowledgeable about the incidents.
2.1.4 Management Review (M)
2.1.4.1 The senior management shall be responsible for reviewing the SQF System and documenting the review procedure. Reviews shall include:
iv. Customer complaints and their resolution and investigation.

 

SQF 2.1.5 Implementation Guidance
Customer complaints provide an important measure of how well the SQF System is performing. By accurately recording customer complaint types, a supplier can objectively measure changes in their management system and show improvements in a process. Customer complaints may also show trends that have not been identified during processing and normal process control checks.

 

SQF 2.1.5 Auditing Guidance
Customer complaints may be the first record that an auditor asks to review when beginning the facility audit. Customer complaints can provide an auditor insight into the performance of the supplier’s SQF System and any trend areas that may require greater focus.

 

BRC Code:

 

3.10.2 Trend Analysis
Complaint data shall be analysed for significant trends and used to implement ongoing improvements to product safety, legality and quality, and to avoid recurrence.

 

BRC Guidance
3.10.2 Trend Analysis
Data on customer complaints shall be analysed so the trends may be identified. This is to help ensure that the root cause of problems is identified and improvements made to prevent recurrence so far as practicable.

 

IFS Food:

 

5.8 Management of complaints from authorities and customers
5.8.3 Complaints shall be analysed with a view to implementing preventive actions which avoid the recurrence of the nonconformity.
5.8.4 The results of complaint data analysis shall be made available to the relevant responsible persons and to the senior management.

 

ISO 22000:

 

Is less specific but implies analysis in:
8.4.3 Analysis of results of verification activities
The food safety team shall analyse the results of verification activities, including the results of the internal audits (see 8.4.1) and external audits. The analysis shall be carried out in order:
c) to identify trends which indicate a higher incidence of potentially unsafe products.

 

NEW for 2020!

 

IFSQN Complaint Management & Performance Improvement Training

 

This webinar will enable participants to develop practical knowledge of complaint management. The webinar provides instruction on how to implement a complaint management system, how to investigate complaints, how to collate complaint data and how to analyze complaint data using the complaint trend analysis tools provided to identify areas of concern that need to be addressed and opportunities for improvement.

 

All attendees receive: a copy of the training material (PDF), personalized IFSQN Training Academy Certificate, Complaint Procedure and Investigation Form Templates, Complaint Analysis Templates, Annual Complaint Trend Analyzer and 30-day access to the webinar recording.

 

Follow the link for more details:
https://www.ifsqn.co...ement-training/




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I realize this is late, but what a great article!

Can you please send me your FREE sample complaint analyser template?

 

Thanks.

 

great post.

Can I please get a copy of your analysis template? thanks!

Hi Tony

 

 

Can you please send me a customer complaint trend analysis template

 

Thank you

Hi Tony,

 

Can you please send me a copy of the analysis template?

 

Thank you.

Hi, Tony,

 

Appreciate all you clearly outlined in your post.

May I please receive a free copy of your above mentioned sample complaint analysis template?

 

Thank you

Hi Tony Great post. I work in retail and would appreciate using your analysis template.

 

Thanks Robbie

Hi Tony,

 

Could I have a copy of your complaint analysis template? 

 

Your blog makes sense and we've just discussed trending complaints at a quality meeting. I don't think what we are currently doing is teaching us anything.

Hi Tony,

 

Could I have a copy of your complaint analysis template? 

 

Your blog makes sense and we've just discussed trending complaints at a quality meeting. I don't think what we are currently doing is teaching us anything.

 

Hi truebertq,

 

I suggest that you PM me as the template is only available with one of the IFSQN Food Safety Management System Implementation Packages

 

'Each of our implementation packages comes with a free complaint analyser template'

Kind regards,

Tony

hi tony i need to upload my Hazard analysis for evaluation i'm getting ready for my FSSC stage 1 Audit help

hi tony i need to upload my Hazard analysis for evaluation i'm getting ready for my FSSC stage 1 Audit help

 

Hi Asanele,

 

I suggest you post on the forums and I'm sure we will be able to help.

 

Kind regards,

 

Tony

Great post Tony!

 

Do you have any additional resources in this area (complaints trending and handling) that you'd recommend?

Great post Tony!

 

Do you have any additional resources in this area (complaints trending and handling) that you'd recommend?

 

Hi Boykie,

 

I've sent you a sample complaint analyser via email which you may find useful.

 

Kind regards,

 

Tony

 I highly appreciated your efforts. Thumps up for Tony.

Best Regards,

Good job Tony

Thank you, I believe we have a product quality improvement webinar scheduled later in the year so look out for it.

 

Kind regards,

 

Tony

Greetings, Tony et al.

 

I have 'religiously' referred to IFSQN as my database of knowledge for any...Yes, A-N-Y food safety & Quality-related matter: T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U to all involved for the immeasurable value you have - and continues to - add to our (small) Global Food Safety community.

 

Having said that, I direct this writing as a query to Tony's Trend Analyses on Customer Complaints:-

 

1.  Which of comparative data will carry the most significant reflection of the impact of Customer Complaints, compared to Total Units Sold or Total Units Produced?

2. Would the recommendation for analyses of Trends be universal i.e. analyses of Corrective Actions, Non-conformances, Disposed Product against Operation-specific quantifiable outputs? To clarify:

2.1 Corrective Actions detailed by department or in reference to Hazards Identification Table,

2.2 Non-conformances will advisably be allocated to Raw Material, Work-in-Process (WIP), Final Packed Products (FPP); a.w.a. corresponding GMP,

2.3 Disposed Products against Raw Material, WIP, &/or FPP produced. Question: Received/Used/Output per line / shift / day / week, etc.?

 

Supplementary throught: I have recently discovered the Power of MSExcel for particular applications such as Summarizing and Trending of Information for Reports.

 

With Thanks,

 

Graham(;-0)

Hi Graham,

Thank you for your comments.

1. I compare customer complaint levels per units sold (normally complaints per million units sold). A customer can't complain about a unit that hasn't been sold!
2. Analysis of trends can be universal and of use provided there is sufficient data for the analysis to make sense.

Kind regards,

Tony

Hi Tony,  we just passed our BRC audit, but got a minor non-conformance for not having the Trend Analysis. (below). Anyway, you could please help me on providing the analysis template?  Thank you so much! 

 

 

BRC Code:

 

3.10.2 Trend Analysis
Complaint data shall be analysed for significant trends and used to implement ongoing improvements to product safety, legality and quality, and to avoid recurrence.

 

BRC Guidance
3.10.2 Trend Analysis
Data on customer complaints shall be analysed so the trends may be identified. This is to help ensure that the root cause of problems is identified and improvements made to prevent recurrence so far as practicable.

Hi Tony,  we just passed our BRC audit, but got a minor non-conformance for not having the Trend Analysis. (below). Anyway, you could please help me on providing the analysis template?  Thank you so much! 

 

 

Hi senchanaturals,
 
I've sent you a sample complaint analyser via email, hopefully you will find it useful. A full version is included in the IFSQN Food Safety Implementation Packages.
 
You may also find the webinar I presented 'Effective Complaint Management' interesting.
 
Kind regards,
 
Tony

Tony,

Can you forward me a copy of the complaint analysis template? Please and Thank you.

Very good post, thank you
Please send me a copy of your template :)

Thanks for the information. 

Hi Tony - can you please share the template with me?

Thank you in advance!

Hi,

 

Can I also get a copy of the analysis template?

 

Thank you

 

kkim@nordicnaturals.com

Can you please send me a copy of your template?

​Thank you!

Well informing post.

kindly send me the complaint analyzer template

thankx 

Excellent tips and strategies.   We are an agent and broker so complaints about products are logged in our register but we are "technically" not responsible for Corrective Actions, RCA's etc.  How would you log the complaints and analyze them ?   Thank you 

For your information, we now offer a 3 hours Complaint Management & Performance Improvement Training Webinar
https://www.ifsqn.co...ement-training/
This includes an editable Annual Complaint Analyzer. Guidance on using it is provided during the webinar.
Kind regards,
Tony