Few small business owners consider falling under the wrath of a customer. Why would customers be out to bring them down? The good news is, it’s a rare occurrence. For the most part, customers support small business with all their might. But, it’s important to prepare for what you would do if a customer turned on you. Whether from an imagined slight, or a genuine complaint, a customer may decide to sue. It’s an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare and could stand to ruin everything you’ve worked for. To lessen the damage, it’s important you know the right way to act. Here’s a checklist of what you should do if there’s a risk of legal action being brought against you.
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Chances are, the customer will contact you first. If your business is public facing, they may come in person to lodge a complaint. Or, if you’re office based, you may get a phone call. A lot of the time, the way you deal with a complaint will determine whether further action is taken. Never before has the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ been more relevant. If a customer is already incensed, do everything possible to diffuse the situation. It may be that you disagree with what they’re saying, but you should never enter an argument. It’s your professionalism in question here. The customer may get abusive, but you must never do the same. For all you know, they’re making a case against you already. Anything you do wrong could come back to bite you. Talk in a calm, manner. Be understanding, and try to reach a solution that satisfies the complainer.
CALL IN THE BIG GUNS
If the first confrontation doesn’t reach a satisfactory ending, it’s time to call in the big guns. It’s worth contacting your solicitors before you know if things are moving forward. If the customer was still unhappy when they left, you can guarantee that won’t be the last you hear from them. Getting ahead of the game is your best chance of avoiding trouble. Talk your solicitor through what happened. They’ll be able to give you some idea of what route the customer may take next. It might even be worth writing down an account of the confrontation. Get any colleagues who witnessed it to do the same.
KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING
That leads us nicely onto our next point; you need to keep track of everything. Every company should have a log book. Log the complaint there, and write down what solutions you offered. It’s also important to keep track of any further communication with the customer. It may be that they contact you again to tell you they’re taking legal action. Or, they may return with the same complaint. Write it all down, and take it straight to your solicitor. Get witness statements from anyone who sees these altercations. The worst thing for you would be lies from the customer. And, if things get nasty, that’s a real possibility.