BBB Business Tips: Why you should answer customer complaints and reviews

Responding to customer complaints and reviews quickly and effectively can help you keep a customer and improve your bottom line.

Responding to customer complaints and reviews quickly and effectively can help you keep a customer and improve your bottom line.

By Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland

Complaints happen! However, responding to customer complaints is good practice and can have a big impact on your company and its reputation. Submitting a response indicates a willingness to work with customers to make things right. 

Check out these three ways that responding to customer complaints can help your business.

It’s a chance to share your side of the story

Customer reviews are powerful. When you have unfavorable reviews, especially those without responses, it may lead a customer to spend their money somewhere else.

However, reviews may not always tell the complete story. A customer might embellish information in their review because they’re pursuing some kind of compensation. They assume the escalation will encourage your business to react negatively. These circumstances, if left unattended, can harm your business’ reputation.

Responding to a customer’s review allows you a chance to explain what happened. The steps begin with recognizing the customer’s dissatisfaction, providing insight into what caused the misunderstanding (even if it’s exaggerated), and allowing the opportunity for further reconciliation.

>> RELATED: Handling customer reviews

You could save a customer 

Even unhappy customers may return to a business if they feel their complaints are heard and responded to.

Customers may be frustrated, but sometimes unfavorable reviews include inflated opinions. Acknowledging the customer’s concerns, working with them, and coming up with a solution together is a great way to repair the relationship and save a paying customer.

However, your answer may save more than just the first customer. You may also keep additional customers who observe how you responded to a challenging situation. Seeing a company professionally work with a dissatisfied client shows future consumers that your company cares about their needs. Taking the time to acknowledge a complaint, even if you cannot provide compensation, can show prospective customers that you care.

>> RELATED: Good customer service is key to small business success

It could impact your BBB Rating

Did you know how a business responds to customer complaints is one of the most significant components of the BBB Business Rating?

BBB Ratings and how they’re derived are sometimes the subject of discussion. For example, how do businesses with thousands of complaints often have an A+ BBB rating? At BBB, we recognize that misunderstandings occur and that the causes that contribute to dissatisfaction are not always within everyone’s control.

For us, it’s not about how the mix-up occurred but how a business reconciles with its customers.

Businesses that react quickly to customer concerns and work with clients to restore the connection can maintain an A+ Rating. Larger companies with a more extensive network are more likely to have a higher volume of complaints. Rather than focusing on the number of complaints, consider how frequently and effectively those complaints are resolved. 

Resolving customer complaints not only helps restore your reputation when trust has been broken, but also can help generate lasting loyalty with customers. 

Here are some great tips on how to deal with complaints:

● Be responsive: BBB recommends always being responsive to customers and truthful in advertising. Check out the BBB Standards for Trust to see if it aligns with your business.

● Respond professionally: What matters to the customer is that you are willing and able to handle the problem. Make the company look great by being productive and proactive. If a situation warrants further investigation or action, that is another matter, but don’t bring the customer into it.

● Get the facts: Ask questions, listen without interruption or argument, and re-state your understanding by paraphrasing what you just heard. See the customer’s point of view.

● Apologize: Be sincere in expressing regrets that the customer has been inconvenienced or disappointed. Then, state the company position. Ask questions to find out if the customer understands company policy. If adjustments are in order, make them quickly, and cheerfully. If no adjustment is due, explain the company policy to the customer. If the company is at fault, admit it quickly and show your willingness to correct the error. Remember, the purpose is to bring the customer back.

● Rebuild your reputation: Remind customers that you have built a good reputation based on service and dedication to your customers. Let them know you appreciate them and can correct the problem.

For additional tips and resources, visit to help keep your small business thriving. Contact your Better Business Bureau by calling 216.241.7678 or emailing Interested in becoming BBB Accredited? Find out how you can apply for BBB Accreditation.


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