Complaints & Poor Reviews. What’s your problem anyway?

Every business experiences customers whose expectations were not met or experiences a problem caused by unplanned or unwanted outcomes with its products or service.  Ideally this is a rare occurrence for both the customers and the business.  If not, it is beyond the scope of this post; If whatever is causing frequent and recurring issues is not solved at its core they will eventually go away anyway when the business closes its doors.

But what about the unusual or unexpected complaints or poor reviews?   As a business, the personal and business cultural response should automatically be-

1-I am sorry!  Regardless of the issue, whether real or imagined, being sorry for our customer not being fully satisfied or having their expectations met is something we should be willing to start from a position of being sorry for the event taking place. What is most important is that being sorry should be a natural and automatic emotional response not simply words designed to make everything ok.  A complaint or a poor review is disappointing.

2- Make sure you understand the real problem and not just what has been said or done.  This is not the time to disagree or confront; it is the time to be certain that the customers position is understood. Assuming the tension level is not overly irrational, the time spent is important and valuable. Prior to determining a solution or even providing an explanation-clarity and gaining agreement from the customer that their perspective is understood is important before trying to “fix” the problem.

3- What can you do about it?  This is not always as simple as it sounds.  Ideally this experience should be viewed as an opportunity to maintain the relationship and to ultimately become a “promoter” of the business.  Too often making the issue “go away” is viewed as a solution but using the issue as an opportunity to learn from the experience and hopefully eliminating the potential for the issue or the type of misunderstanding from occurring again is the most important outcome.  The response and the outcome should be unexpected for the customer and should hopefully result in the customer can appreciate even if the reason for the encounter was negative.