Customers complain about a lot of things in reviews, and the best way to deal with those complaints is to learn to avoid them altogether.
Protect your online reputation by learning to avoid common customer complaints.
Business owners these days know that their online reputation is vitally important to their success — online and off – and it’s also why a negative review can seem like the end of the world. In previous blogs, we’ve talked about why a couple of negative reviews can actually be beneficial for your overall online reputation, as well as how you can turn around the situation by knowing how to respond like a pro.
But at the end of the day, no business wants to get a negative online review, and even though they don’t have to be the end of the world, all businesses would do well to avoid as many negative reviews as possible. That’s why we’ve come up with this list of the most common things customers complain about in negative reviews and what you can do to avoid those complaints.
Top Five Customer Complaints and How to Avoid Them
Customer Complaint #1. Failure to keep promises.
Businesses make promises to customers every day, and the ones with the happiest, most satisfied customers are the ones that keep those promises. On the other side of the coin, nothing can ruin a customer’s experience with a company more than the failure to keep a promise. Trust is something that takes a long time to build in any relationship — and that’s true regardless of whether we’re talking about personal relationships or relationships between customers and businesses. Unfortunately, that trust can be shattered after just one bad experience, which is why failure to keep promises is such a difficult complaint to truly resolve. After all, why should the customer trust you to follow through with your promise to fix the issue when you failed to follow through the first time?
What can you do to avoid it?
Don’t make promises you can’t keep – To put it simply, you should never make a promise if you aren’t 100-percent certain that you’ll be able to keep it. Even if you think there’s a strong possibility you can keep it, it’s better to be honest than it is to end up failing to follow through on a promise.
Train your employees – Everyone should always be on the same page within your business; otherwise, one of your employees may end up promising something that can’t be followed through on. Teaching your employees to effectively communicate can also help to ensure that your business is always keeping its promises.
Be honest about roadblocks – Sometimes, you fully intend to follow through on a promise, but circumstances get in the way and prevent you from doing so. And sometimes, those circumstances are completely out of your hands. Your best course of action in these kinds of situations is to simply be honest with the client and let them know how you plan to fix it. Sure, they may be a little upset, but the vast majority of clients will understand and respect you for your honesty.
Customer Complaint #2. Being shuffled between customer service representatives.
Have you ever called a customer service hotline, explained the issue you’re having, only to have to explain it to three or four more people until you’re finally transferred to someone who can help you? From a customer’s perspective, this can be infuriating, and it certainly doesn’t leave the impression that your business is operating with competence. It also has the unfortunate effect of making the client feel undervalued, which can leave them looking to fill their needs elsewhere in the future.
Most businesses are fully aware of how bad it looks when customers are shuffled around from person to person, and just as it can create a negative experience for the customer, it can also be a waste of resources for the business. If a situation can be resolved by the right person the first time, it saves several people from having to give up their time to address the situation, which means that your business can operate more efficiently and functionally.
What can you do to avoid it?
Train your employees – One common reason why customers get shifted from customer service rep to customer service rep is that they don’t all have the same level of knowledge, experience or ability, and additional training can help them all feel more comfortable in helping clients deal with a greater variety of needs. Another area of training could be in who to turn to in specific situations. Sometimes, shuffling clients around is unavoidable, but it’s much better for them to deal with two people than it is for them to deal with three or four.
Invest in a better answering system – If yours is one of the many businesses that has an automated answering service, it might be time to upgrade yours to one that offers a menu of options for clients to choose from. This way, they can find the right person to speak with right away.
Empower more of your employees – Sometimes, customers get tossed back and forth between customer service reps because only one or two people have the power to actually help them. You don’t necessarily have to entrust every employee in your business with the same amount of responsibility, but if there’s a certain issue that is routinely being tossed from person to person, you might consider giving more people the ability to handle it.
Customer Complaint #3. Being surprised by fees or other unpleasant information.
Imagine yourself in this situation: you’re working with a remodeling contractor to remodel your kitchen. You work out an agreement with them on the overall cost of the project, which will be a stretch for your budget but you’re committed to the work. Then, when all is said and done, you’re blindsided with hidden fees. This is not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, and it can definitely leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths.
Hidden fees aren’t the only nasty surprises that can derail a customer’s experience with your business. Any hidden information, like how a business uses a customer’s data or personal information, risks or possible downsides of a service or product and additional options the client could have chosen, can hinder a customer’s trust in your business and leave them with less-than-positive feelings about your business.
What can you do to avoid it?
Educate your customers instead of deciding for them – Let’s say you own an HVAC company. Your client would save money over time if they bought a new furnace instead of repairing the old one, and the decision may seem like a no brainer to you, but you still have to let the client decide. You should, of course, ensure that they understand the real pros and cons of each option, but you shouldn’t hold back any options from a client just because you don’t think they are the right ones.
Be as upfront and transparent as possible – Whether we’re talking about how your business handles personal information or fees, it’s essential that you’re always as upfront as possible with your customers. No one likes to be kept in the dark, and it’s important that people understand what they’re getting when they work with your business.
Train your employees – It’s possible that a customer didn’t get the whole message because an employee failed to give it to them. Or maybe it’s because an employee made a mistake that they failed to own up to. Either way, training your employees to communicate more honestly will help to provide your customers with a better overall experience.
Customer Complaint #4. Rude or unfriendly staff.
We’ve all been there: you’ve gotten off of work late, and you’re in the drive-thru or stopping by your go-to takeout place for a quick bite. You’re already a little frustrated because you’ve had a long day, and the restaurant got your order wrong. You explain the situation to the host or clerk as calmly as you can, only to have them roll their eyes at you and ask what you want them to do about it. In these kinds of situations, even the coolest heads have trouble prevailing, and now, not only are you frustrated, but you’re well on your way to angry and probably won’t be frequenting that restaurant ever again.
Not every situation is as overt as this. Sometimes, customers pick up on subtle things, like body language, that makes them feel like a burden. On other occasions, an employee’s disinterest or neglect could do just as much damage. In any form, rude employees are the bane of any business, and they can do serious damage to your online reputation if you’re not careful.
What can you do to avoid it?
Train your employees – Every business should have standards in place for how customers should be treated, and it’s incredibly important that you make those standards common knowledge. You should also work directly with your employees every day to ensure that they know how big of a role customer service plays in customer satisfaction, as well as their role in providing that service.
Trim the fat if necessary – While training is always a great course of action when an employee is ambivalent or rude, in some cases, they just aren’t the right fit for your business and you may have to make the tough choice of letting them go. Chances are, if an employee is acting that way toward customers, they aren’t happy in their position anyway. Do them and yourself a favor by putting someone in that role who actually wants to be there.
Raise your hiring standards – It’s much easier to provide great customer service when you hire people who are committed to it before they even start working with you. A lot of people want to do a good job for their customers and take pride in their work, and those are the type of people you want in a role with direct customer interaction.
Customer Complaint #5. Delays in service.
We all lead busy lives, and some days people have less patience for waiting than other days. Imagine you’re having one of those less-than-patient days, and that, instead of getting your order wrong like in our previous example, the restaurant takes 10 minutes longer than they said they would to get your food out to you, leaving you feeling a little on the hangry and impatient side.
Waiting is an unavoidable part of life, and there are a whole host of reasons a customer may need to wait. One of your employees may have had a personal emergency that prevented them from coming to work, leaving you short-staffed and unable to be as efficient as usual. Your supplier may have had a delay, which has led to delays following through on orders or services. The delay may be caused by something you have absolutely no control over, like the weather.
What can you do to avoid it?
Make honesty your best policy – Many of the examples we covered of why delays happen are out of your control, and when things like that come up, all you can do is be as honest as possible with your customers and offer to make up for any inconvenience at a later date. Most customers will understand and give you a break if you’re honest, but if you try to sweep the problem under the rug and act like everything is fine, the delay will likely leave them upset.
Warn customers of potential delays – If you’re aware that there’s something that may cause a delay, it’s in your best interest to be upfront with your customers about it. Sure, if a customer knows a delay might occur, they might choose to go elsewhere with their business, but if they know about potential delays ahead of time and they still want to work with you, they won’t be blindsided if delays happen and will be much happier for it at the end of the day.
Have a backup plan in place – In some circumstances, if a potential delay can be foreseen, it can also be avoided by having a backup plan in place. For example, if you rely on every member of the team showing up, it might be good to hire some as-needed help during flu season, or even during the holidays when lots of people are out visiting family.
Bad reviews happen. Learn how to manage them with Top Rated Local®.
There are lots of things that you can do to avoid the ire of your customers. But even the best businesses get bad reviews from time to time. It truly is how you handle those reviews that makes the biggest difference in how they affect your business’ online reputation. If you ignore a negative review or leave unattended, it’ll only fester, and that inattention actually gives more weight and truth to the review. But if you make it a point to respond to that review, own up to your mistakes, apologize and make it right, not only might you win over the customer who had a negative experience, but you might also win over potential customers researching your business online.
The best way to deal with negative reviews is promptly, and when you claim your Top Rated Local listing, you’ll get real-time notifications when you receive new reviews, as well as a whole host of other tools that can help you better build and maintain your business’ online reputation, including a Rating Score™ that will give you an idea of your online reputation as a whole and monthly reports on your online reputation. Best of all, you get all of this at no cost to you. Start taking ownership of your business’ online reputation. Become a Top Rated Local business today!