While that recent negative review on Yelp about your small business may have you panicking, it’s better to hear what’s wrong than have your customer go silent.
Silence often turns into disappearing customers. And, you can bet they won’t be silent to their friends. You’ll be bad-mouthed.
When a customer leaves and says nothing, you have no context for why or what you could have done better. That’s why, as bad as it sounds, customer complaints are actually good for your business.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll have bad customer complaints.
They can be really damaging and have even caused me to question why I’m even in business. Luckily over the years, I’ve learned that complaints can be a very good thing and teach you crucial things you need to do to improve your business. They even have helped me to become less stressed in my life.
Why you need complaints to truly grow your business
- For every one complaint you receive, there are dozens of other customers who most likely experienced the same thing, but didn’t speak up. This provides you with the motivation to quickly address the issue so you don’t lose more than just the one squeaky wheel.
- Complaints may draw your attention to internal processes that you may not realize were in need of repair. With busy day-to-day activities, you might not have been looking at how each of the pieces were doing. When customers complain, they’re bringing them to your attention so you can get them fixed. This could involve a rude staff member, slow response time, or poor product or service quality.
- Negative feedback may even come with a practical solution to whatever the problem was that the customer experienced. Feedback that includes good ideas is the best kind. It already provides you with something you can run with that actually yields a way for you to immediately implement improvements beyond just that one customer experience.
- Dealing with a problem is a way to learn, and it can be leveraged to shape staff training. Dealing with a problem also lets you determine how your attitude and reaction influence how the customer felt after the complaint. This is a real opportunity to humanize your brand, create personal interaction and engagement, and reinforce certain service values within your organization.
- Every complaint teaches me how to deal with rising problems. New resolutions and facing problems head on.
When you remedy the problem immediately, research has shown that you not only can then win that customer back, but you also have a greater chance of keeping them over the long-term. Plus, you can gain new ones as this customer shares how great you were to them and what you have done for them.
Worried that negative feedback posted on social media or elsewhere is going to adversely impact your business? Be proactive about it then. Regularly review all the sites where you’re talked about to see what people are saying.
Acknowledge any negative feedback immediately. Respond appropriately. Others will see that you’re making a concerted effort to address these complaints through the comments you leave on these sites and will value you for your customer care and concern.
Don’t forget—you can’t make everyone happy all of the time
Lastly, remember that there are always going to be people who are just driven to complain but don’t really have actual reasons for doing so. While you can still address their comments, it’s important to know: You will never make every customer happy. Other people reading these complaints online will be able to separate legitimate complaints from those that have no merit.
The most important thing to do here is to acknowledge and communicate with the customer who complained. When you do address the customer complaint? Do so respectfully, ask questions to get more information about what they felt was bad, and provide an answer to them about what you plan to do.
Include the action and timeframe in which you’ll fix the problem. In this way, you have learned something new about your business and your customer base, and the learning experience can be used going forward to generate greater success.
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, author and contributing writer for Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, Inc., and The Huffington Post. Don’t miss his recent post on our beloved former CEO, Dave Goldberg on Business.com.