Unfortunately, customer complaints from the Better Business Bureau cannot be ignored. It doesn’t matter if it was you and your team who dropped the ball, or if your organization was merely a victim of an irrational customer, if not handled properly, grievances can have harmful and lasting impact on a small business.
Complaints cloud a company’s record for three years, so it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. However, if you do receive them, here’s what you can do to curtail the damage:
- Respond – It’s important, so we’ll state it again, customer complaints from the BBB cannot be ignored. The BBB recommends that all businesses, those BBB accredited and non-BBB accredited alike, should respond to complaints as soon as possible. A timely, professional response will demonstrate to the customers that you are willing and able to handle the problem presented to you.
- Recognize and Apologize – When responding to a complaint, acknowledge and reply to each issue individually. We all know that crazy people seem to complain the loudest, but it’s important to stay fair and responsible. Apologize for the negative experience and don’t take it personally.
- Provide Documentation – If you have grounds to disagree with the compliant, don’t be afraid to defend your brand. But know that “your word” against “theirs” won’t fly. You will need to provide some documentation that supports your side of the story. If you can’t back up your story with solid evidence, it’s best just to apologize and move on. If you are able to prove that a customer complaint is unfounded, remember to always be tactful, respectful, and courteous.
You may be able to avoid a BBB complaint altogether by living two common sense best practices:
- Be Proactive – Filing a complaint with the BBB isn’t usually a scorned customer’s first move. Businesses should try to resolve the problem before it escalates to a full-blown public criticism. Encourage your team to sensitive to customer emotions, and make sure they are keeping track of individuals who they feel may be dissatisfied. Often dissatisfied customers are just seeking acknowledgment or apology, a quick follow-up call or email can work wonders.
- Provide Clear Contracts – If customers know exactly what to expect, they will be less likely to have complaints. Make sure your business is providing crystal-clear contracts that plainly outline the service you will provide.