The old saying goes that “the customer is always right.” It’s usually never the intention of a small business owner to do something that may negatively affect a customer, but as human beings, we’re not perfect. Bert Seither, a small business expert, has a few suggestions on how to handle complaints from customers who patronize a small business.
Complaints can come in a variety of forms. A customer could call your business, e-mail you, visit your store, or even post it on your company’s Facebook page. Some customers are respectful enough to be level-headed about their complaints, while others can be extremely rude in how they approach the situation. Regardless of how a complaint is brought to your attention, you should treat each one cautiously and professionally.
According to Bert Seither, the first thing to do is to find out why exactly someone is upset with a product, service, or other aspect of your business. Listen to what someone has to say by making them feel like they matter. Identifying the problem will give you clues about what caused it. This makes it easier to come up with a workable solution. Some issues take minimal time to resolve. Others are more complex and take patience and a willingness to make them better, no matter what’s involved.
You should also be open-minded with all of your customers. Put yourself in the shoes of someone in the same boat. What would you do? How would you feel? What would your expectations be of the business you’re dealing with? If you can somehow get a glimpse into this mindset, it will help in your decision-making when it comes to handling complaints. Also, you should be open-minded about offering free or discounted options to anyone with a valid objection. On the other hand, not all complaints are even close to being legitimate, so discuss these issues with others whenever possible.
Bert Seither says the key to solid customer service is to quickly resolve a problem and make sure the customer is satisfied. Sometimes you’ll have to put everything else on hold to ensure you do what the customer expects, as long as these requests are within reason. The longer you wait, the more likely a customer will end up going elsewhere – and they might tell others about their bad experience with your business, even if you intended to take care of the situation.