Receiving negative feedback or a complaint from a consumer is never settling. Running a business, you are constantly interacting with customers and a vast majority of those interactions are probably positive, but every so often you may find yourself faced with a customer complaint. How do you respond to these complaints? With many people quick to post on social sites and file complaints through public forums, a business reputation may be on the line. Prompt and professional responses are crucial. Better Business Bureau of Central New England provides dispute resolution services that aim to facilitate resolutions between a business and a consumer, offering you an opportunity to share your position.
As a neutral third party, BBB has tips to help you resolve disputes quickly and effectively:
Respond. A common reason consumers file a complaint is that they are not getting a response directly from the company about their issues. If you are not responding to your customer’s concerns in good faith they assume you are not going to address the issues and seek alternative action to resolve the problem.
Don’t take it personally. It is easy to take it personal when an upset customer voices a gripe. Instead of retaliating or ignoring their concerns because you do not believe it is valid, look at it as an opportunity. It may be a chance to improve customer service policies or other business procedures. It may be a chance to make some positive changes and avoid complaints in the future.
Deal strictly with the facts. Avoid getting emotional. If the customer’s requested resolution violates a policy, explain that and cite your policy. BBB recognizes that the customer is not always right. As a neutral third party, our goal is to gather the facts, conciliate the issue and give all parties ample opportunity to present their position while working towards a resolution.
Identify and address the core issue. Try not to get caught up in side issues. Stick to the main issue that is bothering the consumer and provide a thorough explanation of your position. If your company did happen to slip, you have an opportunity to address it. If you feel the consumer is being unreasonable, you can back up your position with facts.
Note deadlines. BBBs dispute resolution process attempts to resolve matters quickly, typically within 30 days. All timelines are outlined within BBB communications. If you need an extension, let us know and our dispute resolution staff is happy to work with you to make reasonable accommodations.
Respond in writing. Our process requires responses to be documented in writing. Documentation to backup your statements is always helpful, too.
Remember that the customer will see your response. Avoid hard language. Both parties will have opportunities to rebut the other’s statements. A well-crafted, professional response is more productive than a short response, or one that could be interpreted as attacking.
We do not know your business. If the customer violated a law, rule, regulation, or industrial standard, let us know. Our staff is trained to facilitate the process, but we are not experts in every industry, it’s helpful if you include this information in responses to allow for a better understanding of the situation.
Remember the goal of resolution. A clean record at BBB is resolved complaints, not the absence of complaints. Even the best companies get complaints. What stands out is how your company reacts to these situations.