It is a fact of modern business life that some people will complain whatever you do. Whether this results in a negative or a positive experience depends upon how your business is set up and how you respond to your customer. So, how can you help yourself avoid customer complaints and when they happen how can you make the most of them?
Yes, they can be used as a tool to improve your business.
Here are some tips for helping yourself avoid and manage not-so-positive customer interactions.
Establish good systems
- Be clear and concise about the services you offer – on your website and other marketing collateral as well as in person. This is your chance to explain what you do and set customer expectations.
- Ensure your systems not only enable you to do a great job but also show you have done a great job. Getting your reporting right will go a long way in achieving this. Have you tried our Rapid Inspect app to assist you with this?
- Put customer relations at the heart of your operations. Many small businesses live and die by their reputation. Working hard on the communication you have with customers, including finetuning your complaints response process, can present the opportunity to explain your point of view in a dispute. And it can lead to more positive feedback.
- Follow up your work. Effective systems will see you contact your customers periodically to remind them about inspections or treatments that are due or work that would benefit them.
Good systems will not stop claims or avoid customer complaints in themselves, but they will minimise them and potentially help you to manage the fallout. The right kind of insurance – such as professional indemnity and general liability insurance – will also help you manage negative consequences.
- Under promise and over deliver. This is a classic principle of good customer relations. You set a realistic expectation, and then you beat it. You impress the client and give them something positive to say to their friends about your business.
- Set up a detailed yet easily readable contract. This will ensure the customer is aware of the scope and limitations of your work, providing an official document for all parties to refer to.
- Communicate changes/delays before they happen. For example, if the scope of work needs to change then advise the customer ASAP, give them as much notice as possible if you need to reschedule or send a report later than expected, tell them if you know that you will be more than 10 minutes late, and so on. This shows you value their time and helps build the relationship.
- Ensure your employees are doing the same – stay on top of their workload and ensure they’re optimising their efficiency.
Do the job right first time
- Know your product. Whether installing a chemical barrier for termites, treating carpets with a new cleaning chemical, or using a moisture meter during a building inspection, it is important to understand the particular features of each product so you can do the job right first time.
- Follow your own procedures. Having taken the time to establish good systems, follow them.
- If you have employees ensure they are the best people to represent your business. Have you hired well? Are they doing the best thing by the customer?
- Keep good records, because having done the job right first time you will also need to show:
- You set up a clear contract;
- When the work was completed;
- What, if any, limitations were on the work; and,
- What, if any, other recommendations or advice were provided (including a note about any verbal advice).
Also, if you’re branching out into new business territory or are wondering if you need to brush up on your skills, don’t hesitate to seek out appropriate training. This is a normal part of business and all professionals are expected to keep up with industry changes and developments.
Do you have any further tips to help others avoid customer complaints? Leave your comment below.