Customer complaints can be positive input

The Baltimore Sun

Many small business owners forget what it is like to be on the opposite side of the sales counter.

It is important to consider the customer's point of view and how he or she perceives your business. Make your decisions on what customers want - the right products or services at the right prices and attention to service that makes them feel valued.

No matter how good your product or service may be, difficulties or complaints will arise. Try to view complaints as positive input for improvement.

Try to avoid handling complaints on the fly. A written customer service policy will help you anticipate and cope with even the most pointed complaint.

Here are some other tips for handling complaints:

Listen to each complaint and consider it seriously. Most people complain only when they feel they have a legitimate grievance.

Try to take the customer's point of view.

If possible, troubleshoot the complaint while the customer is present. An open and honest response brings you from conflict to common ground.

Should the complaint turn out to be baseless, let the customer save face. Tell him or her the feedback has helped you evaluate and improve your service.

Stephen L. Rosenstein is co-chairman of Greater Baltimore, SCORE Chapter No. 3. Call 410-962-2233 to speak to a SCORE counselor or visit To send a question to SCORE representatives, e-mail

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