Life sciences quality management procedures are often awkward. Dotted with their own strange lingo (observation, device master record (DMR), technical file, essential requirement etc), they can take some getting used too. Many seem to be designed with auditors in mind, rather than auditees, with a primary focus of demonstrating an intention to comply with regulations.
One of the most awkward procedures of all tends to be the one for managing issues brought forward by customers, often called a customer complaints procedure. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Prioritising regulatory compliance over customer satisfaction
    In many customer complaints procedures and forms, a significant proportion is dedicated to addressing the regulatory aspects of handling complaints. A brief statement such as ‘We need to update the customer about our actions’ may be the only element that actually relates to resolving the complaint. How to manage a complaint in a way that will delight the customer isn’t taken into account at all.
  • Lack of joined-up thinking
    In addition to complaints, you need to handle simple enquiries from customers about usage, billing, maintenance and the like. So why not handle complaints as part of a single strategic approach to customer support and post-sale communications?

As a result of these factors, customer complaints procedures in our industry tend to be compliant but out of context and inadequate for what the business needs. The easiest way to turn this situation around and create a customer support process that works for your team and your customers, as well as the auditor, is by using Jira Service Desk.
This product comes out of the box with many of the best practices in customer care already embedded. It’s also so flexible that it’s straightforward to set it up to meet the regulatory requirements.
Here are some of its best points:

  1. It makes it very easy for your customers to ask for support or submit a complaint
    With Jira Service Desk in place, a customer simply needs to send an email, which will automatically generate an issue to be processed by your customer support team. The issue can’t fall between the cracks and will be managed according to a defined internal process. This increases the likelihood of resolving your customers’ problems to their satisfaction and remaining compliant.
  2. A simple customer-facing process can be coupled with an elaborate internal process to manage customer issues effectively
    For the customer the process will feel like a simple exchange of information leading to a satisfactory resolution. Behind the scenes you can get the whole team involved in several complicated stages of the process, but your customers will see only those bits you want them to.
  3. You can guarantee that all the compliance-related boxes are ticked
    With the flexibility and adaptability built into Jira Service Desk you can guarantee that no procedural aspect related to compliance is being neglected. This will mostly be handled within the internal part of a process, which is not seen by the customer.
  4. It allows tailored processes to be put in place for different types of customer issue
    Jira Service Desk supports tailored work processes for different request types. For example a customer complaint may be handled differently from a request for maintenance.
  5. It makes it easier to capture relevant information from your customer
    You can now set up a customer portal, which will allow specific forms to appear depending on the issues your customer wants you to address. For example when someone makes a request for maintenance, the form will prompt them to provide a serial number. If they’re requesting a training session, they may be asked for the number of trainees and their previous experience. This will help your team resolve each issue more quickly.
  6. It supports improved response times
    Jira Service Desk allows you to define your response time targets, or service level agreements (SLAs), and monitor them constantly. This will encourage your team to work proactively towards meeting SLAs, helping your organisation learn and improve in the process. Isn’t this what quality management is all about?
  7. It helps you make best use of your team
    The allocation of tickets to team members can be done both by push (assigning a ticket to a specific person) or pull (allowing a team member to proactively take on an issue). Load balancing rules can also be applied to help you use your resources in the best possible way.
  8. It will empower your customers to help themselves, saving time for your team
    Connecting your JIRA Service Desk to a Confluence knowledge base can help your customers find answers to many issues without the need to open a ticket. This will result in less repeat issues submitted to you, so your team can use their time more productively.
  9. Implementation is easy
    Your Jira Service Desk implementation can grow and evolve with your business.
    The hardest bit will often be working out what you need it to do to help you address customer issues in the best possible way. However you can start with a very basic but compliant process and develop it to streamline the handling of issues that you find customers are raising most frequently.
  10. It facilitates FDA CFR 21 Part 11 compliance
    Last but not least, to keep auditors happy, Jira Service Desk comes with an audit trail facility built in. The requirement for electronic signatures can easily be accommodated by using a marketplace plugin such as Intenso’s Electronic Signatures.

Removing the awkwardness of the customer complaints process and replacing it with Jira Service Desk is one of the best things that can happen to a quality management system, maximising regulatory compliance, internal efficiency and customer satisfaction. Your team will love you for it!