When you own a small business, it is likely that at some point you will have to respond to customers who have had a negative experience. Whether they were just having a bad day or your customer service department did not do its job, when a client makes a complaint to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it cannot be ignored.
The BBB processes complaints from customers against businesses. Even if your business is not a member of the BBB, these complaints can hurt your company. Potential customers can check the BBB Web site and find information about your company such as how many complaints have been filed and what kind of rating the BBB has given you. Any negative issues about your company can certainly hurt your business and your bottom line.
Responding to Complaints
If your company is a member of the BBB and a complaint is filed, you will be given up to 30 days to respond to the complaint. If you do not respond, the BBB will likely cancel your membership and you will be given a negative rating. If you are not a member, and you do not respond to a complaint within 30 days, information about customer complaints will be listed on the BBB website under the name of your business.
When you receive a complaint, review it thoroughly. Read the complete form and find out when the incident occurred and which employees the customer dealt with. If you cannot personally remember the incident, hold an office meeting to find out exactly what happened.
Take appropriate action in response to the complaint. If the complaint was against a certain employee that you have had trouble with before, you may need to write up the employee or even fire him. If the complaint was about something such as false advertising, you should immediately pull the ad in question. If you feel that the complaint had no merit and that there is nothing that you should do, then don't do anything.
When you receive a complaint from the BBB, you will also get a form that you can fill out in response to the complaint. You are given a space where you can write in your version of what happened, along with what, if any, action you took to resolve the complaint. Be sure to write this section in a professional manner, leaving out all personal feelings about the subject. Have someone else read over your response before sending it back to the BBB to make sure that it is objective.
Fill in any action that you took when you considered the complaint. Let the BBB know if an employee was fired or reprimanded or if you pulled an advertisement. In some cases, the customer will request a refund or an apology. If you intend on responding directly to the customer in one of these cases, be sure to list that as well.
Mail in your form well within the 30-day time limit. The BBB will review your response and then either accept or deny it. You will receive a notice in the mail informing you of their decision. It is not appropriate to give in to the customers in all situations, and the people at the BBB know this. The most important thing to do when you get a complaint filed through the BBB is to respond to it in a professional and timely manner.