Customer Complaints can be Opportunities

When a customer complains, think of it as three opportunities in one.

  • An opportunity to get feedback on something that’s not working right in your organization.
  • An opportunity to convert a disgruntled customer into a loyal customer.
  • An opportunity to head off negative publicity.

Here are four steps to take to convert a complaint into a positive outcome.

  1. The initial response. Be respectful and helpful. Avoid becoming defensive or saying “it’s not our fault.”
  2. Understand the complaint. What’s the true complaint? It may not be easy to stay calm when faced with an angry rant, but making sure your customer knows you’re listening can defuse hostility and ill will. Gathering the facts provides valuable feedback to help you pinpoint the problem and find out what went wrong.
  3. Fix the problem. Have established procedures so your employees know who has the responsibility and the authority to correct a problem. Do employees need managerial approval to compensate a customer for inconvenience with an upgrade or refund? What actions can your employee take to remedy the customer’s immediate concern?
  4. Follow up. A phone call or letter within a reasonable time can ensure the problem has been resolved and turn the customer from “disgruntled” to “loyal.”

About Brenda J. McGivern, CPA

Brenda McGivern started her own certified public accounting and management consulting firm in October 2001. The full service CPA firm provides tax and accounting solutions to meet the needs of today's small business and individual. Brenda McGivern has become a trusted advisor and valuable resource her clients rely on for timely, accurate assistance when they need it. Before starting the firm, she worked as an accountant for three years at a local firm and prior to that five years at a large international CPA firm in Boston. She has performed the following tax services: federal, state and local tax planning, international tax planning, estate and succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital retention and IRS representation. She has also coordinated assurance engagements, such as financial statement audits, reviews and compilations from the planning phase through the reporting phase. She has prepared and reviewed regulatory filings for numerous regulatory agencies including the Security and Exchange Commission. Prior to these positions she was selected from over 2,000 candidates into an eight-person intensive financial management program at an international technology company. The program consisted of graduate level classroom study and two six-month rotational assignments in financial operations. She graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. McGivern also holds a license in Massachusetts as a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. She resides in Stoughton, Massachusetts with her husband Brian, and their sons Sean, Ryan and Conor and their dog, Davis.
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