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.

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

Need a customer complaints template?

The Customer Complaints template is used to record all of the complaints that your food business receives. This excel spreadsheet allows you to record customer details, compliant investigation details and more. Includes Bonus Complaint Trending.

Click here to learn more

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, for example, 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.

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:

  • BRC Global Standard Food Safety, Issue 9 – Clause 3.10.2
  • SQF Code, Edition 9 – Clause 2.1.3
  • IFS Food, Version 7 – Clause 5.8.3
  • ISO 22000, Edition 2018-06 – Clause 9.1.2

What complaint metrics does your business trend?

Trending customer complaints is an essential aspect of managing a successful food business. By using trend analysis to identify consistent results and trends, you can make the necessary changes to keep your business on track and ensure customer satisfaction.

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.

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