Tips for Handling Consumer Complaints

Consumers complain to BBB when a company’s internal complaint handling policies don’t work.

One of the most common reasons consumers file a complaint is that the company won't return their phone calls or meet with them about the issues. If you aren't responding to your customer's concern immediately-in good faith, they will and do assume you are not going to fix the problem and they will seek a solution elsewhere. 

Don't Take it Personally.
See it as a chance to fine-tune your customer service policies. Consumers complain to BBB (or other third parties) because your internal process has not met their needs. BBB does not want more complaints; we want fewer complaints, which happens only when your internal process doesn't work. BBB staff always ask the customer if they spoke with you first. 

Set Aside Emotions and Deal with the Facts.
If the customer's request violates company policy, say so and state your policy. If the customer is being unreasonable, say so but back it up with factual data. BBB recognizes that the customer is not always right.

Identify the Core Issues.
Don't get caught up in the side issues, "she cussed; he scowled; she's a know deadbeat; he's bounced checks here before" they're all irrelevant. All the customer knows is something went wrong. 

Address the Core Issues.
If your company slipped up, correct it then and there. If the customer is being unreasonable, tell us how. 

Note Timelines.
Mark them on your calendar. As a business you have a set timeline to repond specific to your consumer's complaint file date. This will be outlined in your complaint transmittal letter from BBB. 

Respond in Writing to BBB. 
Use regular mail, e-mail or the special online facilities that you are directed to in the complaint transmittal letter from BBB. 

The Customer Will See Your Response.
Avoid immoderate language. Both sides have a chance to rebut the other's arguments or positions. The customer has the last say. 

We Do Not Know Your Business.
You do. If the customer wants you to violate the laws, rules, regulations or industrial standards that apply to your business, tell us and substantiate it. We do not judge your skills, professional knowledge or workmanship. We evaluate your customer service. 

BBB Can Only Evaluate.
If you have relevant documents such as repair orders that the consumer didn't include; receipts or payment stubs that substantiate and support your side of the argument, send copies with your reply. 

Resolved, Resolved, Resolved.
A clean record at BBB is all resolved complaints, not the absence of complaints. Even the best companies get complaints. What distinguishes those firms is how they work to resolve complaints, then learn and improve from them. Lesser companies, with poor customer service, rarely admit any errors and ignore complaints all together.