Better Business

Robb Hicken: Six tips to help you handle your customers’ concerns

ROBB HICKEN, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionOctober 29, 2013 

Robb Hicken

Better Business Bureau held its semi-annual “free shred day” on the College of Western Idaho campus this month. Several businesses worked with BBB to get the word out. We also took out newspaper and radio advertisements.

Three days before the Secure Your ID Day, radio spots began running on the drive-time traffic reports.

“I’ve been notified twice that someone has heard an ad on the radio that got our name wrong,” says Angie Nelson, director of community relations for Les Bois Credit Union, an event sponsor. “Either pronouncing Les Bois wrong or using ‘federal.’ Is there anything that can be done?”

When things go wrong for a business, it’s not a matter of an apology, refund or reprint, but a matter of making good. Making good means doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Strong relationships are a big part of a sustainable business, and developing those relationships, both internal and external, requires attention. Best-selling business author and coach Seth Godin says: “Perhaps try being human.”

Nelson’s appeal over the “error-ridden” radio advertisement for Les Bois Credit Union fell short of the sponsorship expectations. What she was really asking was why it happened and what was going to be done to make certain it doesn’t happen again. BBB radio advertising used a standardized script for the “Traffic Report” reporters, but once it was turned over to the station, the word and pronunciation was altered.

How would you handle a customer’s concerns? A simple thanks and move forward? If you’re a business owner, you need to refine how you’ll make those relationships with customers and build trust. BBB offers the following six tips:

1. Start from the inside out. Focus on your employees. Employees are the backbone of a business, and taking time to communicate with them daily could help foster a positive company culture. Remember, employee respect is just as important as customer respect.

2. Get to know your vendors. To help build trusting relationships with vendors right from the start, review lists of BBB-accredited vendor companies. Choosing vendors who are committed to ethical behavior will help create strong, lasting relationships that could, over time, ensure you are getting the best service for your buck.

3. Protect your customers’ identities. Make sure all customer information is handled properly and securely. Ensure your business is protected from a security breach by having the right security measures in place.

4. Advertise honestly. Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling, and always represent products and services truthfully, including clear and adequate disclosures of all terms and conditions.

5. Connect on social media. While many businesses use social media for marketing, these platforms provide great opportunity for engaging the online community. Connecting with consumers and organizations on social media can create awareness about your brand and help build trust.

6. Be a community advocate. Participate in the betterment of the community. Customers are loyal to businesses that are involved in programs that support their local community, such as philanthropic groups, chamber organizations and business networks.

BBB’s event took place, and Les Bois Credit Union’s event coordinator was delighted with the turnout.

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