People complain about your business.
It’s true. It happens but most of the time you never hear about them. On average for every one complaint you do hear, there are 26 other complaints that people have.
That’s a substantial number. And while many of the complaints are perhaps minor in nature, they are something that the person who has the issue is upset with, upset enough that they may be out telling other people.
While telling other people in our face-to-face conversations has always been around, today we have social media which makes it easy to complain to our “friends” and beyond.
Before social media, the estimate was that someone with a complaint will tell 10-20 other people. Today those numbers have substantially grown. Just think if those 26 unheard complaints. If each person tells 20 people, you now have over 500 people forming an opinion about your company. And the numbers can just keep growing and growing if the complaint is a good story.
And the complaint process can happen anywhere and at any time. I no longer have to come to your store, I can just go online and voice my discontent.
So what’s the message?
You need an easy to use, very visible complaint process.
In addition to having a process, it must be available for people who come into your store or who want to do it online. You must make sure that people know of your process. And you must take the time to respond to complaints. Not only must you respond, but I would encourage you to make your complaint metrics available. How many complaints have you received? How long did it take to respond on average? How many of the complaints were successfully resolved or, at least, the customer felt you listened and tried to do the best you could.
The complaint process not only helps you maintain good relationships with your customers, but it provides you with an important information tool. For many small-business owners, it provides key data on where changes need to be made.
And just one final thought. As I noted in the title of this blog, don’t label it a complaint process. This sets up a mindset for people. Instead call it feedback or some other similar word. You want your customers to be able to say thanks as well.
It’s human nature that people will complain. Accept this fact and use it to your advantage.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.