Use Customer Complaints to Build Your Business

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa's. Visit visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner's success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa's small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit

Use Customer Complaints to Build Your Business

Every small business owner dreads a customer complaint. Whether it comes through your website, an e-mail, or a phone call, it feels like a personal slight against all of your hard work. But the longer you stay in business, the more inevitable a complaint becomes. Over time, a successful business owner learns that the key isn't to achieve a spotless complaint record. The key is to use complaints to help strengthen your business.

Research shows that customers value small businesses because they understand customers, anticipating their needs and exceeding expectations. A full 97 percent of customers state that small businesses are likely to say thank you, showing appreciation for a customer's business. However, as a small business owner I've found that these high expectations can also set a business owner up for failure. A sudden surge in business can create an overworked staff and stretched resources, leading to the occasional disappointed customer.

Invite Feedback

It may seem like a scary idea, but soliciting customer feedback could be the best thing you ever do for your small business. Before you post a feedback form, be prepared. Not every comment will be a glowing commentary on your staff, facilities, and products. However, after the impact of any criticism wears off, you'll likely be left with new insight into your business.

A customer's opinion that your product breaks too easily could lead to your decision to switch material or manufacturers. A comment about the sloppiness of your sales staff could give you the incentive to create your first company-wide dress code.

Respond Quickly

When a complaint rolls in through social media or e-mail, it's important to respond as quickly as possible. Nearly half of survey respondents state they expect to hear back from a brand within an hour of filing a complaint. This is especially important if the complaint is posted on your business's social media page, where everyone can see it.

Responding quickly demonstrates to your customers that you not only value their opinion, but their time as well. Sixty-six percent of customers revealed that in providing good customer service, the most important thing a business can do is value their time.

Social Media is Important

Whether or not social media is important to your business strategy, it's important to your customers. While 45 percent of customers expect businesses to provide customer service through social media, more than 60 percent of customers say they feel brands do not effectively communicate with them through social media sites.

Too many businesses use social media as a marketing tool, posting messages without paying attention to what customers are posting. Interacting with your social media followers not only shows your customers you care, it also has the ability to give you invaluable insight into how your business is being viewed by the community it serves.

Keep in mind that one person's opinion is just that. However, over time you may notice certain trends that could lead you to make changes to your business that reduce customer complaints permanently. By taking each complaint seriously, you can fine-tune your business until it well exceeds customer expectations.

Ramon Ray 22 Jul, 2013

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