Establishing a Customer Complaint Procedure: The 4 Steps You Need to Take to Handle Customer Grievances

When you run your own company, putting a customer complaint procedure in place is something that you should implement to be certain that your customers are taken care of and have confidence in your company. Since your customers are the single most important factor to the success of your business, making sure that any problems they have are addressed as effectively as possible is something that should always take priority.

This is just as true for a small business as it is for a large corporation and your situation will have an influence on how you should approach setting up a procedure. So keep reading to learn more about establishing a customer complaint procedure for small businesses and you will get a clear understanding for the things you need to do to set up this critical business process.

The Ins and Outs of Customer Complaints and What You Need to Do

The reputations of many businesses across every industry rely on word of mouth more than anything else, so it’s easy to see just why customer complaints can be a big deal. In the past few years, getting the word out about a business has never been easier, thanks to a host of review sites and complaint boards that have emerged on the internet. You might think that a single bad review might not do much, but that isn’t always the case. Since your business is an emerging one, you’ll want to do everything you can to handle customer complaints and protect your reputation at every turn.

Here is what you can do:

  • Realize that Cool, Calm, and Collected is Always the Way to Go – This is the first rule of conflict management and one you will need to familiarize yourself with before any other. No matter how upset a customer is with something, matching their level of anger instead of trying to diffuse it, will only escalate the situation and may end up costing you business. Keep this in mind when establishing your customer complaint procedure and make sure you start your approach to resolution with a cool head and even temper. This will make it much easier to behave logically rather than emotionally.
  • Realize that a Complaint Against You is Not a Personal Attack – It can be easy to think that a customer venting his or her frustration with something is taking it out on you, but thinking that way can hinder finding a solution to the problem.When dealing with a customer complaint, take a step back and try to find the root of the customer’s problem. If you are successful in identifying the root of the problem, you now have knowledge of a business process that can be improved in some way.
  • Treat Customers Uniquely and Individually – The smaller your company is, the easier this will be to do, so this should be a cornerstone of your customer complaint procedure. When you need to address complaints that customers bring to you, make sure you do so in a way that lets the customer know they are a person and not a number. This process could mean doing things like bending rules that you have or following up after a problem is resolved. This method will increase your chances of establishing a reputation as someone who goes the extra mile for the customer and will do what it takes to keep them coming back.
  • Keep Records of Complaints – We all should learn from our mistakes and with that in mind, there’s no better way to build a customer complaint procedure than to keep records. These resources not only help you, but could serve as good learning tools for any employees that you might eventually hire. The scenarios that you recreate for training purposes can help those employees become familiar with your policies for addressing customer complaints and that will make any future resolutions that much easier to reach.

As time goes on and your business grows, you will have to alter your policies for handling complaints, but these four steps are a good way to build a strong foundation. By following them, you can easily take care of what is sure to be one of the most important parts of your operation.

Further Steps to Building a Customer Complaint Procedure

As stated earlier, the internet is something that can’t be ignored when you need to take care of complaints. You can use that fact to encourage your customers to interact with you through a business website or social media, making it easier to track what is on their mind. When your customers need to vent, or they have suggestions, they want to know that you are listening. Establishing a presence online for their convenience is one of the best ways to do that. Customer complaint procedure is something that not a lot of entrepreneurs think about until they are faced with an issue. Establish one as soon as possible and you will be able to guide your business that much more effectively.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

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