Andy Hanselman's Answer:
First off, it's great that someone like you is taking this matter seriously and taking the responsibility for doing something about it – this is something I feel that your organisation should be supporting, even if your manager isn't.
From what you say, this is clearly a big issue in your organisation and your report does need to highlight the scale of the problem. On their own, the individual complaints can, unfortunately, be easily 'justified' or 'explained away'.
Your challenge is to get the message across how concerned you are about the frequency of complaints as well as the nature of them.
It's important therefore to use the data that you have collected. If this is not collected and analysed, I think that you should get specific numbers for the last few months if possible – or weeks if that is more applicable.
I think that a great way of getting this very serious message across is to use graphs and images to show the extent of the problem. For example, a cumulative graph for the number of complaints each week for the last three or four months (or each day for the last three to four weeks). This does a number of things:
- It shows the 'trend'
- It demonstrates the extent of the problem i.e. this is not an 'isolated problem'
- It indicates how the problem is likely to escalate.
You may also want to highlight the number of complaints as a percentage of orders won if this is a significant figure.
Could you put a 'cost' on these complaints in 'lost sales'? Obviously there are many other 'costs' too - perhaps you could highlight these. The cost of 'dealing with them and rectifying the problems' - How many hours (and salaries) are spent on this? There is also the 'hidden cost' of negative 'word of mouth' which is difficult to put a price on, but which should be highlighted.
Can the complaints be 'broken down' by topic, department or even sales person (be careful on this one)? If so, it may be useful to highlight the common causes / reasons.
Are there others in your department who share your concerns? If so, could you include their views about the seriousness of the problem?
Finally, I think that your report should also highlight any recommendations you may have to overcome the problem which should also demonstrate the benefits to the organisation.
Good luck with this. Organisations need people like you – people who want to do something to improve their performance.