Tips for Answering Complaints

October 15, 2012

Now that complaints and your replies to the complaints are being published, it’s time to think carefully about what you want to say in each reply. It’s the communication that goes on between you and your customer (with BBB’s help), before the complaint is closed, that differentiates your BBB review from complaint websites. Remember, BBB does not publish a complaint until it has been closed. That means that the business has every opportunity to respond thoroughly and appropriately to the consumer’s concern. This is your time to shine, because consumers who read the complaints will also read the business’s replies to those complaints. Make the most of the opportunity to put your best foot forward!

Before replying to BBB about a consumer complaint, think about what is important to say:

What is the complaint about and how did this situation develop? Forget the emotion and hurt feelings. Focus on the actual problem and how it can be resolved.

Is this a case of miscommunication? Did you not receive a message from the customer? Did something beyond your control go wrong at the time of service?

Why is this issue important to your customer? Put yourself in his/her shoes. Did the customer miss an important deadline or event because of the problem? Did the customer have a hard time reaching you? Has the customer paid for something he/she has not received?

What do you want your customer to do and what does the customer need to know to do it? Do you need a receipt or other documentation in order to resolve the matter? Where should the information be sent? Is there a good time to reach you – or better yet, is there a good time for you to reach your customer? Is there someone – a manufacturer, for example - that the customer should be talking to? If so, can you help the customer get in touch with the right individual? Have you offered to come out to look at the problem?

Finally, if at all possible, what can you do to help the customer feel satisfied that he/she made the right choice in doing business with you?

A little pre-planning will help you write a concise but complete reply that lets others know you care about your customers and are ready to help resolve outstanding issues. It’s a win-win!