Complaints are a Good Thing - Really!

February 18, 2014

Many business owners dread receiving complaints and rather than resolve the dispute may choose to ignore the complaint or become defensive. Both can be detrimental to the bottom line.

Both are the wrong approach to take, according to Shelley Polansky, vice president of communications for Better Business Bureau®  Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming.

“Complaints are an indicator of how well you are satisfying your customers and where there may be room for improvement, be it sales, accounting or service,” said Polansky. “That one complaint may represent many other dissatisfied customers who simply took their business elsewhere.”

If your business receives a complaint, studies show that if it’s handled quickly and fairly, the customer will become an even more loyal customer. “But if the complainant receives no satisfaction, he or she can become a negative advertising force for your company by spreading negative word of mouth comments,” Polansky said.

BBB has offered dispute resolution services since being founded more than 100 years ago. This free service helps consumers and businesses – both BBB Accredited and those that are not – arrive at resolution more than 70 percent of the time.

BBB dispute resolution services works like this:

How BBB processes complaints: A complaint filed with BBB is the customer’s view of the issue. BBB is interested in the business’s side of the story as well. The business will receive a copy of the customer’s complaint to review.

The Business’s Response: The business should respond promptly to BBB regarding a complaint. Failure to do so results in the dispute being closed as “no response” and a reduction in the company’s BBB rating.

A satisfied customer: BBB forwards the company’s response to the customer. If he/she is satisfied or the business has made an effort to respond to the issue, it may be closed as “resolved.”

An unsatisfied customer: If the customer is unsatisfied with the business’s response, BBB may try to mediate the dispute or offer arbitration. BBB may ask the business for a rebuttal response. Following that, the complaint may be closed as “resolved” or “unresolved.” A complaint that is unresolved may affect a business’s BBB rating.

Who’s right?: Except for cases that are arbitrated, BBB does not determine who is “right” or “wrong.” Instead, BBB acts as a neutral third party to assist a business and consumer in arriving at a fair resolution. BBB evaluates whether the customer is satisfied or whether the business has made a good faith effort to resolve the dispute.

Arbitration: If BBB’s conciliation process is unsuccessful, the business and customer may both agree to arbitrate the dispute through BBB. In arbitration, the business and the customer present their cases to an independent third party who renders a decision enforceable in court.

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