Defending Your Business’s Reputation: Tips for addressing and resolving public customer complaints
Posted by SBOC Team in Advertising, Sales and Marketing on Oct 15, 2012 8:03:56 AM
By Iris Dorbian.
Having a solid and sterling reputation can be a small business’ greatest currency. A good word-of-mouth can invest a company with credibility and cachet. Who needs a retinue of expensive PR flacks when you have glowing reviews on Yelp?
And yet, as quickly as a reputation can be built, it can be destroyed. The ubiquity of social media has upped the ante so much that even a single online negative review or rant on a site such as Twitter or Facebook can do immeasurable harm to a brand, be it a Fortune 500 company or a small mom-and-pop shop. But while the former might have a platoon of spin-doctors at its disposal to clean up the smears, a small business with limited resources may not be so lucky. How then can a small business perform damage control when it’s being slammed on the Internet?
Be proactive when dealing with complaints
Don’t be passive or silent. The sage advice that your grandmother once told you, to ignore attacks, is not applicable to Internet protocol, which in many ways, is reminiscent of the Wild, Wild West, except that back then, at least, you knew who your gun-toting antagonists were. That’s not an advantage afforded in the sometimes anarchic wilderness of cyberspace, where consumers can cloak their identities in anonymity while freely slinging mud about your company on myriad sites.
Andrew Dale, CEO of The Pin People, a 12-year-old lapel pin manufacturer based in New York City, knows all too well the devastating effect a negative Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating can have on a small business, particularly if you don’t respond to complaints within a certain timeframe. Recently, Dale’s company lost a lucrative order after the client performed some due diligence and discovered that The Pin People had an F rating, according to the BBB.
DefendingRep_PQ.jpgEmbarrassed, Dale, a retired cop and former Marine, went into damage control mode. He contacted the BBB and found out that his company received the F rating because it had never responded to two outstanding customer complaints, which surprised Dale as he was unaware of them. Turns out that out his company never received the complaints because the BBB sent them to an old mailing address it had on file.
“Since we never responded, they accepted both complaints and also penalized us for not responding!” recalls Dale, incredulously.
But fortunately, all was not lost. “The BBB explained that they could reopen the complaints and as long as my company responded to the two customers making the complaints and showed good faith, the complaints would be resolved,” he explains.
Dale offered the two customers in question an option to either redo the order or a complete refund. Following Dale’s response to the parties, The Pin People’s BBB F rating was removed and changed to no rating, which Dale admits was a much better scenario than a flunking grade.
“One party contacted me and we redid their order, and the other party never contacted us—as that complaint was over two years old,” relates Dale. “The BBB has since given us an A+ rating and we were just approved to be accredited by the BBB.”
For more info, go to http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/growing-your-business/salesandmarketing/blog/2012/10/15/defending-your-businesss-reputation-tips-for-addressing-and-resolving-public-customer-complaints