13 Ideas to Make Your Business More Complaint Friendly

In June, Mike Blumenthal takes a deep look at customer complaints with a series of articles.  View all of the posts covering strategy, ideas, customer insight, survey data and more to improve how your business handles customer complaints.

complaints build business

“Complaints are the raw mater out of which a better business is built.”* While this statement is true, it might only carry real weight if you don’t leave complaints to chance.

Allan Kaplan of Kaplan Insurance Agency is in an incredibly competitive & crowded insurance market just north of New York City. But for him customer service is a top priority and in fact Kaplan Insurance maintainsNet Promoter Score (his word of mouth index) score in the 90’s, one of the highest we have seen in his industry class.

In the insurance industry an independent agency like Kaplan sells the insurance but does none of the billing or claim adjustment. The national insurer bills it, a third party does the accident appraisal and a different division of national does claim reimbursement.

But the customer may have had a terrible customer service experience along the way and Allan doesn’t usually hear from the customer until renewal time when the customer is already lost to him.

In his case complaints could be caused by people or processes totally out of his control and he would never have known and subsequently lost the client. After he implemented GetFiveStars and he started encouraging feedback, he seemed to be “doing complaints right” so we interviewed him to learn more about how he was so successful.

We took his ideas and few more to come up with this check list for your business.

For Allen, and we think most businesses, complaint resolution creates loyal customers, prevents bad reviews and provides critical intelligence you need to improve your business. All of these lead to a better bottom line.

If that is the case, and I believe that it is, every business needs to be ready, willing and able to accept complaints and handle them professionally.

Here are list of ideas that we have put together that help make your business more complaint friendly:

Be ready to handle complaints

  • Recognize your biases and think about how you will overcome them
  • Have a plan that is written and followed
  • Be ready for that moment of misery and don’t fall prey to your emotions

Make it easy to complain

  • Make a preferred complaint channel easy and obvious to your customers
    • Post an SMS/text number readily visible in-store that you monitor
    • Put a form on your website to encourage feedback and complaint
    • Post your feedback link in your newsletter, email, on your receipt & in-store
  • Listen on all channels including Facebook, Twitter, Messenger and anywhere else you might be mentioned
  • Actively solicit feedback
    • Survey you customers regularly by email and ask how they are doing (Use GetFiveStars!)

Welcome complaints when they do come

  • Lead by example and be sure that you role model optimal behavior for your staff and co-workers
  • Make a complainer feel like your most valued customer because in some ways they are  (Maybe give Hug Your Haters a read to understand this idea further)

Resolve complaints quickly

  • Empower employees to act on your behalf
  • Quick responses and quicker action will be perceived as caring

Handling a complaint should be a well thought out and efficient process just like your sales process already is. If you are proactive rather than reactive and anticipate the coming complaint you can make the absolute best of a bad situation.

Do you have a complaint plan in place? How do you handle complaints? Let us know.

You can read or watch more about Allen and his agency in this customer spotlight.

* h/t to Earl Netwal for this great quote.

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

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