Pat Iyer

By Pat Iyer

Customer Satisfaction: The Bottom Line

Customer Satisfaction: The Bottom Line 150 150 Patricia Iyer

A business, whether large or small, has so many elements to it that sometimes one can forget the most important aspect: the customer and/or client. These people are the reason for your business, and the successful businessperson never forgets that.

There’s no such thing as 100% customer satisfaction, but you must always aim high. One area that is critical to success is how you deal with customer complaints.

Set Realistic Goals

Anyone in business knows that some people are never satisfied. They live to complain. Others are looking for ways to get things free. Some always must be right. All these characteristics can be combined in one dissatisfied customer.

Anyone dealing with customer complaints needs to sort out the habitual malcontents. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore them. Whether they contact you directly or post on Amazon, Yelp, or another online venue, send them a courteous message:

“Thank you for posting this comment. We always want to know how we’re doing and how we can improve. I want to apologize that XXX didn’t meet your expectations.”

Then, if desirable, add specific details.

Here’s how a restaurant proprietor responded to a negative review by a customer who had complained about excessive wait times and inattentive staff.  (I’ve changed some of the details.)

“Thank you for taking the time to give us honest feedback. I apologize for the substandard service you got from us last weekend. We were caught understaffed on one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, and I am so sorry that our crisis made your dining experience so disappointing.

We’d like to make up for that by giving you lunch on the house the next time you have the opportunity. Let us show you how great our service can be.”

Another approach to a negative online review might be to invite the person to call so the issue can be discussed.

Overall, you want to demonstrate that you care about the customer’s experience with your company, whatever it is. And remember that other people will be reading what you write. Go over what you write carefully. The original response that I modified had more than one typographical error.

Check the Language of Your Returns Policy

This is crucial. It must be written carefully and reviewed with a critical eye. Avoid any language that might be questionable. For example, if you require that a product be returned in its original packaging, make that clear. If you can, have your returns policy stated on the receipt that comes with the package.

If you’re responding to a dissatisfied customer who’s eligible to return a purchase, remind him or her of that policy.

Thank the Satisfied Customer

This is just as important. Here’s a response from the same restaurant owner (again revised).

“Dear Shawn,

I appreciate that you took the time to give us feedback. Our goal is to give every customer a peak experience when they visit us, and we work hard every day to make that happen. We hope you’ll visit us again soon.”

Know What Your Customers Are Saying

Even if you’re not the one handling customer complaints, you want to know what those complaints are. Ask for regular, itemized reports. Also, make a point of checking how the personnel handled those complaints. Make sure that someone is checking online forums.

Your company is as good as your reputation, and your customers have a lot to do with your reputation.

Pat Iyer is one of the original 100 C Suite Network Contributors. As a ghostwriter and editor, she helps her clients shine. Connect with her on and listen to her podcast on the C Suite Radio platform: Writing to Get Business.