Food Safety and Protection

How to trend food business customer complaints

Customer complaints are part and parcel of running a food business. It is uncommon that a food business will not have any customer complaints as you will never be able to satisfy all your customers 100% of the time.  With this in mind, complaints become an important measure of how well your food business is operating. Welcome to HACCP Mentor. In this post the what, why, when and how of trending customer complaints is discussed.

What is customer compliant trending?

Customer complaint trending is the process of comparing customer complaint data over time to identify any consistent results or trends.  These trending report then form an important part of the management review process.

Benefits of trend analysis

There are many benefits of trending customer complaints in your food business.  It can help you to understand how your food business has performed with regards to food safety, food quality and food regulatory requirements.  When completed correctly, trending can give your food business ideas and insights into changes required to remain on track.

  • Trending customer complaints can also help you to:
  • Identify areas where you are excelling so you can duplicate this success
  • Identify areas where your business is underperforming
  • Provide evidence to support your risk assessment or hazard analysis process

Common metrics used in trend analysis

In your food business, there are many different customer complaint metrics that can form the basis of your trend analysis. Some common customer compliant metrics include:

(1) Hazard Category – was the complaint related to microbiological, chemical, physical, quality or regulatory issues.

(2) Level of risk – if you have rated your customer complaints as say high, medium or low risk.

(3) Time of year – different times of the year may influence the amount of customer complaints your business receives. For example, you may find that in the summer months there is an increase in spoilage due to increased temperatures.

(4) Location of complaint – the geographical location of the complaint may show trends in distribution chain handling issues.

(5) Supplier performance –  the identification of products with common ingredients can assist with assessing supplier performance.

Frequency of trending customer complaints

Customer complaints should be logged immediately on receipt. Having a mechanism which allows for instant trending of this data enables issues to be rectified quickly before they turn into major issues. Management review of the customer complaints trending data may be scheduled monthly or quarterly.

Compliance Overview

Most GFSI recognised standards require trending of customer complaints. Common reference points are listed below:

  • SQF Code, Edition 7.2 – Clause 2.1.5
  • BRC Global Standard Food Safety, Issue 7 – Clause 3.10.2
  • IFS Food, Version 6 – Clause 5.8.3
  • Woolworths Supplier Excellence Food, April 2016 –  Clause 1.7.4

What complaint metrics does your business trend?

Share the love with the HACCP Mentor community by providing what metrics your food business uses when trending customer complaints. Please leave a comment below this article.

 

6 thoughts on “How to trend food business customer complaints”

  1. This is a very simple way to form an action plan to address complaints based on relativity. I would suggest select the top three complaint metric and work on them first

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