AN innovative website to improve customer services has launched from its Midland base.

ComplaintCommunity, which describes itself as “like a class action without all the legal bits,” brings together all parties involved in a complaint to deal with it successfully.

Founder Neil Gleeson was invited by Advantage West Midlands to speak at its annual conference as an example of innovative businesses.

Mr Gleeson said: “It’s quite a simple website. Consumers can put a complaint on our website very easily – it’s just one page and the record is 23 seconds. You can then manage your complaint.

“Normally when you make a complaint you are sending letters and emails and your information is all over the place. With our site the history of information sent and received is online.”

Once consumers log a complaint, ComplaintCommunity verifies it and sends it on to the “complainee” – the organisation being complained about.

“If you speak to people, consumers are upset, not because of what happened, but because they don’t get a proper response. We have given companies a tool to respond. It’s basically an email exchange system – emails go to private inboxes but both sides can, if they wish, agree for it to be a public complaint and appear on a forum.

“It’s then down to the consumer to close the complaint and they can rate the result.”

In cases when it’s not possible to bring the complaint to a mutually-acceptable conclusion, consumers and companies can get access to expert advice.

“People can get advice from other users posting comments giving advice.

“We have also got a facility where you get to access professional expert advisors, for example solicitors or bodies like the Trading Standards Agency.

‘‘We are also building up a panel of expert advisors to help companies improve their customer service – we are using local specialists in complaint management.”

The final piece in the jigsaw is the ability to search for a company which can provide a better offer for the service or product than the company complained about.

“We know some complaints cannot be fixed so we thought where next? People would maybe think about going elsewhere.

“The better offer provider facility is like a dating agency, once we receive a better offer request, the system trawls through to see if we can get them a better offer.”

But Mr Gleeson stressed that there would be no “dodgy ads” on the site or unsolicited contact from expert advisors or better offer providers as contact from outside parties relies on permission being given by the user.

Mr Gleeson got the idea for the site ten years ago when he worked as a business project manager for Birmingham Midshires where part of his role involved looking at how to better manage customer services.

“Birmingham Midshires was a fantastic customer services company – they had a 95 per cent excellent customer service rating from their surveys – but they were still thinking about how to reach out to the other five per cent to get better and better.”

Mr Gleeson said ComplaintCommunity was unique in that it sets out to help all parties concerned in the complaint, the “complainee” companies included, not just provide a space where angry consumers can vent their anger.

“We are bringing together a marketplace which is fragmented at the moment. If you look at the web there are a zillion and one rant sites.

“We want to go that extra step to help the individual consumer and to help the company themselves. It makes sense for companies to understand where there is a problem and fix it and ultimately give a better service.”

ComplaintsCommunity estimates there are more than 500 million complaints made in the UK alone per year.