We, as small business people, naturally dislike complaints from our clients and customers. Because we’re intimately involved with our home businesses, small businesses, or freelance careers, any complaint takes on a personal commentator. A dissatisfied customer is a direct reflection on our performance and a blow to our egos. The common reaction of small business people to a consumer complaint is defensive posturing and/or avoidance.
But ignoring a disgruntled customer can be much more damaging than small business owners realize.
When consumer complaints are avoided or ignored, the customer still needs to vent. A study done at Western Washington University and Illinois State University, shows that consumers who had a bad experience at a store most often responded in three ways:
They decided not to shop at the store again.
They told their friends and relatives about their bad experience.
They convinced friends and relatives not to shop at the store again.
If the customer decides never to use your services again, you’ve lost one customer. But the damage may be worse. There may be a real problem that the business is unable to address because they aren’t focused on it right now.
If the customer tells friends and relatives about their bad experience, the business now has a negative reputation with several customers and potential customers.
If the customer convinces friends and relatives not to use the business, the business has now lost several customer (probably for good), and the influenced customers will likely spread news of the original bad experience to their peer network in order to bolster the validity of their decision.
By Joseph Lawman