I wrote some of this to my individual and family clients, but I think it’s just as important for us business owners to consider, during this moment in our national history.

Even though I’m a tax and accounting professional, and I have found it wise to “stay in my lane” during these kinds of events, I still care deeply.

And so I’m grateful for the voices that are urging unity, and also grateful to those who remind us that there is so much more yet to be done before we get to the place of healing and truth. Indeed — some people are called to raise their voices right now, and I say this is all for the good. Let’s make it a priority to learn from one another during this kind of national moment … and let’s do it locally, here.

While this moment seems like a kind of national crisis, have you noticed that nobody really talks about what happens when crisis hits a small business?

Understandably so, because most people prefer to focus on how to manage growth, do awesome advertising and generally just grow to the stratosphere.

But if you’ve been in business for ANY amount of time, you’ve certainly faced irate or frustrated customers. It’s simply a function of misplaced expectations — which happens in any relationship, over time. We see this around the nation, don’t we?

Well, I’ve put together for you a primer for how to handle this sort of thing. It’s great for business … and it’s also a pretty good strategy for life in general. (Call it free marriage advice.)

5-Step Process For Handling Customer Complaints For Long Island and Stamford Businesses
“Life is a long lesson in humility.” -James M. Barrie

Sometimes the customer is justified in his complaints … other times he is not. So what are you going to do about it?

I’ve written previously of course on handling customer complaints well — but it’s worth covering further, how to handle the other various kinds of circumstances that may arise for this. Because here’s the way many businesses handle it: Ignore the problem, and blame the customer.

Sure, in some economic cycles, this might have been fine (plenty of other business out there, after all) … but in this uncertain environment, you MUST respond to the feedback you receive.

Shoot, you’ll find that what you thought was a disaster can be converted to an opportunity.

In fact, American Management Association (AMA) research into consumer behavior indicates that the average satisfied customer tells three people about his experience, but the average dissatisfied customer gripes to eleven other people. Negative word-of-mouth advertising is a problem few businesses can afford!

So how will you respond to the customer with a complaint? I’ve already spoken about what NOT to do (ignore the customer, ignore the problem).

Instead, here’s a great five-step process to go through every time.

1) Acknowledge that the person is upset. “I can see that you are mad”/ “I could see that you’re upset with us.”

2) Make a positive reassuring statement. “I want you to know I will get something done about your problem.”

3) Make a sad/glad statement. “I’m sorry you had a problem but I’m glad that you called it to my attention.”

4) Ask the magic question, “What will make you happy?”

You’ll often be quite surprised — often the dissatisfied customer will ask for something less in settlement than you would freely offer.

5) Make the settlement. “Mr. Smith I’m truly sorry that you encountered this problem and I’m going to do exactly what you have requested. We want to keep you as a valuable customer!”

Simple as that.

But the sad fact is that by avoiding this simple process (and not training your employees to follow it, or giving them the proper authority to do so), many businesses set themselves up for aggravating their most important asset: their clients.

And remember — my team and I are here for you, to help in any way we can.

Feel very free forward this article to a Long Island and Stamford business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way?These particular articles usually relate to business strategy because, as you know, we are Profitability Consultants also specializing in tax preparation and planning for Long Island and Stamford families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.


Michael J. Kessler, CPA
(516) 449-2852
(203) 658-5092

PS–Join us for our show Business Profits In The Real World Saturday afternoons at 4 on 103.9FM WRCN where we bring you Long Island and The New York-Metro’s most successful business owners sharing how you too can bring your business to among the most profitable in your industry.  No radio? No problem! Listen live at LINewsRadio.com – or can’t listen live?  Hear our past shows atMichaelKesslerCPA.com