Proven Techniques to Deal with Customer Complaints

For small business owners (and for large ones too) customer complaints is a fact of life. Every business runs into few customers who are not happy with the service or product or something else. The complaints in and of themselves are not going to hurt your business much. It is how you deal with them that determines how they will impact your future business.
We have heard many business owners say – “but I know that this customer is wrong. He/she is just trying to get free stuff or get discount by complaining and making a scene.” And they may be right; but does it really matter who is right or who is wrong? At the end of the day, it is about who has the power to hurt your future business. It is these customers who are complaining – genuine or sham.
So, is there anything you, as a small business owner, can do to alleviate this problem? Obviously, you cannot stop customers from complaining; although you can reduce the number of genuine complaints by providing excellent products and services. Based on our experience in running multiple restaurants we have come up with these guidelines to deal with customer complaints and mitigate their impact on the business.
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How to “fire” Customer the Right Way

Post from Guest Contributor Chris Blanton, editor of Ingenious Business Guide.
Sometimes you just need to let a customer go. If a client is abusive to staff, or demanding but you’re unable to satisfy or reason with them, you may have to show them the door.
It can be valuable to periodically evaluate your customer base and jettison the ones that are no longer a fit. Many companies routinely rid themselves of their “D” class unprofitable customers. It is a valuable strategic practice that will not harm customer relationships provided you do it correctly.
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Why You Need Poker Face as a Business Owner

If you are not careful to check your emotions when running a small business you may stand to lose number of customers and sales. As a small business owner, you are not only the leader of your employees; but also represent the face of the business. Whatever emotions you show in front of employees and customers reflect upon your business. That is why it is important to have enthusiastic demeanor and smiling face when facing customers and employees.
Many small business owners and leaders cannot control their emotions, especially when things are not going right on a particular day. They get too frustrated with the pressure of the time and get upset with employees and customers. We have experienced this first-hand.
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How do you deal with “bad” customers?

All businesses have “good” customers and “bad” customers. We like to call “bad” customers the “undesirable” customers. You don’t mind losing them because they do not contribute much to your bottom line. In fact, they usually drain too much time, energy and money from you and your business either directly or indirectly. We showed how you can identify these “undesirable” customers in the previous post here.
As a business owner you do have a choice as to who you want as a customer. However, you don’t want to be seen as rude when dealing with these customers, even though at times you may feel compelled to do so. You have to figure out a subtle approach that gets the job done, while at the same time doesn’t appear rude.
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10 Questions to Ask Customers to Get Them Talking

In the previous post we mentioned that you need to hear customer and employee stories in addition to looking at formal reports and metrics.
One of the ways you can do this is by asking open ended questions to your customers, employees and other business owners to understand the reasons behind numbers. Below we have identified 10 questions that will get them talking.
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10 Questions You must Ask in Customer Survey

In the previous post on “How to Hold onto Your Existing Customers” we mentioned that regular customer feedback is one of the important tools you should use to keep a pulse on your business and understand how your customers perceive the value they are getting from you. The customer feedback also will raise any red flags that you need to address before they get out of control and the business is deteriorated significantly.
There are several avenues you can use to get customer feedback. If you have a web site for the business you can use the online poll using free survey tools such as Surveymonkey , Free Online Surveys. If you have a physical store you can use a simple typed form that customers can fill in while they are waiting. Even social media sites such as Facebook have poll utilities you can use to get customer feedback.
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Does Your Business have Social Media Strategy?

If you don’t have a strategy to deal with Internet and social media you might be in a danger of losing lot of business. Just look at this article in Detroit Free Press past Saturday. To summarize the article – a student from Western Michigan University claims his car was illegally towed from his apartment complex by the tow truck company. He created a Facebook page to fight with the towing company and attracted 11,000 “fans” on the page; who joined him in the revolt saying they too had similar complaints against this company. The result was that that towing company lost half of its commercial accounts.
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