Handling customer complaints

Whether you're viewing negative feedback from your customers online or handling it over the phone, it is important to be professional and improve the situation.

Following are some tips to help you handle customer complaints, according to www.inc.com and www.bbb.org:

  • Don't be afraid to break the rules once in a while. Straying slightly from a formal policy and occasionally bending the rules ultimately could cost less than losing a customer or having a customer relay a negative story to others.
  • If a customer is ranting, just listen. Customers often need to vent their frustrations before they are ready to discuss a solution.
  • Respond accordingly to complaints and avoid knee-jerk reactions. Small businesses should have a process in place to address online complaints and phone complaints.
  • Although you may find unhappy customers on Facebook and Twitter, you can embrace the social networks to promote your brand and counter the negative by posting special promotions and good things your company is doing.
  • Use complaints as an opportunity to improve. Examine each complaint you receive and try to find a way to avoid that situation in the future.
  • Pick your battles; it can be extremely time-consuming to address every post or tweet. Try to choose ones that are timely or have a solvable problem.
  • If you are defending your company online, be upfront about the fact that you represent the company. Honesty is best.
  • Be professional publicly and privately. If a Facebook post leads to an offline conversation through e-mail or by phone, remain polite and helpful.
  • Know when to walk away. Some customers can't be satisfied. Offer a sincere apology and walk away from the conversation.

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Are your customers ranting or raving?.