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Ignoring customer complaints is a poor judgement call and in time will cost your business dearly, not only lost business but reputation.

In a previous post we dealt with how quickly a customer complaint can be made in 2015 and it was no coincidence that we used the image of a bullet. Following on from feedback from the blog post it became clear that there is a yawning gap between those companies that deal with customer complaints and those that ignore them for one reason or another.

What is patently clear is that any small business worth its salt cares abut customer complaints but here’s the nub of the issue; not all of them understand how to deal with customer complaints and even more importantly, they don’t have procedures in place for staff to follow in the event of a customer complaint. All the hard work in building a small business can come undone, all for want of a process to handle customer complaints.

The way your customers buy from you is very important. If the buying experience is frustrating or difficult, a customer may not even complete their first purchase, let alone return. Just as frustrating is holding important data about them that is wrong or lost. The following are some tips for your systems and processes:

  1. Record customer service standards and relate them back to business goals.
  2. Include the best point-of-sale software systems and other relevant technologies you can afford.
  3. Reward customers with a customer loyalty scheme.
  4. Record client details in a customer relationship management (CRM) database.
  5. Seek post-sale feedback from clients.
  6. Establish a customer complaints policy.
  7. Recognise and reward staff behaviour that you want to encourage.
  8. Review recruitment practices to ensure you employ the right front-line staff.
  9. Include a staff training programme and review staff performance regularly.
  10. Ask key staff what they already do to provide good customer service.
  11. Encourage ideas, suggestions and observations from all staff.

As you can see from the above list, establishing a customer complaints policy is but one of a list of 11 highly recommend practices that you take on board. You should recognise the interrelated nature of the list and how much better your business would perform if you were to adopt as many as is feasibly possible.

Ignore customer complaints at your peril in this super connected world. Word-of-mouth is now amplified beyond our comprehension and no backtracking can undo the damage of an ignored customer complaint – it travels twice as fast as a speeding bullet.

Check out our Customer Service Guide for Small Businesses, it’s a great read and will give you the practical advice you need to build a customer service policy for your business.

 

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)