The first response to a customer complaint involves anxiety. If indeed the customer is always right, then something bad must have happened on your end: a clerical error, an employee gaffe, or a defective product. But the first rule in dealing with customer dissatisfaction is to neither overreact nor underreact. A complaint wont likely close your doors, but by the same token, it is best not to completely ignore the issue either. Rather, take a step back and calmly assess the situation. Unhappy patrons surface for a variety of reasons. Some may be legitimate and others may be frivolous. Try to defuse customer complaints by sticking to the same practices you adopt in your daily business pursuits.
Poor Online Reviews
Most people who go to the internet to write scathing reviews of your business do not have the nerve to do it in person. Therefore, the first thing to consider is whether the negative feedback is valid. Some online reviewers use the opportunity to anonymously bash businesses because they can do so without confrontation. You must determine the legitimacy of the complaint and respond accordingly. Either way, craft a written response to the review in the same manner you would if it were an initial customer inquiry. Offer to fix the problem and ask for a meeting or phone conversation. If the complaint is not on the level, the issue will likely die on the vine. However, if the customer comes forth and you make it right, ask the other party to post a followup, indicating you stood behind your word as a respectable businessperson.
It is the situation every business owner dreads. An angry customer storms into the workplace and demands to speak to the owner. The uneasiness quickly spreads to employees, other customers, and you. The first step to handling the matter is to find a private place to talk. As the proprietor, the buck stops with you, and it is best to face the issue one-on-one with the customer. Remain calm as you let the individual air his grievance. Extend the same courtesies you would if meeting the customer for the first time, perhaps offering a snack or beverage. If the complaint is warranted, your sincere effort to make the customer whole will likely put the problem to rest. If not, maybe your patron is just having a bad day.
Written complaints can come at you from a couple different angles. Some customers mail written complaints directly to your business and others may submit grievances to regulatory or consumer agencies. In the case of the latter, do not ignore any request for further information. Respond promptly and thoroughly to the inquiry. Be forthright and provide as much detail that is documented or can be recalled. Your timely answers to questions surrounding the incident reflect your willingness to cooperate with all parties involved. Recognize that honest mistakes happen and your business will survive all but the most egregious and willful errors.