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Tips on dealing with Customer Complaints as a new Business (part 1)

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by Startacus Admin

We’ve all been there, well certainly any of us that have ever worked in a customer service, or customer facing role. The complainer, the moaner, the always unhappy customer, who whilst potentially being 1% of your customer audience, can end up taking up 99% of your energy, stress and time.

However, maybe that 1% have a point. Maybe that 1% can be your most valuable audience. Maybe if you can learn to deal with customer complaints and deal with them successfully, not only can you fight the immediate fire, you can strengthen your overall position as a business and its future success. Therefore here’s part 1 of our pointers and tips on dealing with customer complaints as a new business.

Plan for problems
Anyone that has a small business or has an early startup startup will be able to empathise with this point. The only ones that really know how little your actual headcount is (how many staff you have) is you and other startups in the same position. Whilst you may give the impression to your customer that you are the new kid on the block - the new big dealing with customer complaintsbusiness - the next big thing - the reality is that it may be just you and a few others, or maybe even just you on your own. However, if you want to be ‘the next big thing’ you need to act like or better than your best competitor. So when a customer complains don’t admit that you are not as good as you promised - make plans now to be able to react if and when a minor or serious complaint occurs. One way to do this - and to potentially buy yourself a little valuable time is to be clear from the outset what your response times are for any issues / complaints and customer queries are. if you give clear expectations from the outset, then the expectations from your customers will be often managed too.

Don’t ignore it!
The worst thing that you can do is to ignore the ‘fire’. Fires do often end up putting themselves out, but not until they have done a massive amount of and often irreparable damage. If you fight the fire head on (the complaint for those who have not picked up on the analogy!) then you may be able to extinguish the complaint before it has caused real and potentially long term destruction. Often - if you are writing a “to do” list - the problems and complaints you have to deal with may be added to the list first, but dealt with last. It makes sense that you would want to hold off on doing anything that is problematic, however the longer you ignore it, the worse it may seem or get. Get it done and hopefully out of the way!

Stay calm
It stands to reason, but however angry the person is that is complaining - the worst thing you can do is to be angry back. Anger very rarely makes problems better - and the more angry, frustrated and unhappy you get - the more aggressive and unhappy your customer is likely to get. Stay calm but firm, but also appreciate that maybe, just maybe they have a very good point.

Maybe they have a point
Moving on quite nicely to - “maybe they have a point”. Customers often complain not because they are natural complainers, but because they are right. Consider this - How many times have you been in the situation of complaining yourself or are you only complaining because you like the aggravation it causes? Hopefully you answered - “never” and this is the same for the majority of your customers. If you think that your customer complainers are all out to ‘get you’, then think again - it is most certainly that their complaint - however annoying and small it may be, is valid.

In part 2 of Tips on dealing with Customer Complaints as a new Business we return with some more (hopefully) handy tidbits of advice and in the meantime feel free to comment via the forum if you have any more valuable tips to add to the list.

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Published on: 3rd June 2013

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