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Small Business Secrets
Illustration by Neil Webb

Small Business Secrets

with Dave Crenshaw

Video: Working through complaints

- Most business owners really don't like getting complaints. You've put a lot of hard work and effort into your business, and then someone comes along and says they don't like something about it, it's your baby. Well, the reality is, complaints are actually opportunities in disguise. They're opportunities to improve the way you do business, and they're opportunities to get more customers. In this video, I'm going to walk you through my green, yellow, red method of responding to complaints.
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  1. 10m 10s
    1. Working through complaints
      6m 11s
    2. Helping customers who aren't right for your business
      3m 59s
  2. 52s
    1. Welcome
      52s
  3. 6m 2s
    1. Discovering your most valuable customers
      2m 55s
    2. Increasing business with MVCs
      3m 7s
  4. 7m 7s
    1. Setting prices for services and products
      3m 48s
    2. Knowing when to raise or lower prices
      3m 19s
  5. 8m 18s
    1. Identifying areas for improvement
      5m 0s
    2. Solving problems with the SAM Cycle
      3m 18s
  6. 6m 17s
    1. Establishing guidelines with family and friends
      3m 18s
    2. Managing family and friends
      2m 59s
  7. 7m 38s
    1. Exploring the elements of a simple plan
      4m 34s
    2. Reviewing and using a single-page business plan
      3m 4s
  8. 8m 6s
    1. Considering the leap from passion to business
      3m 41s
    2. Making the transition to full-time business owner
      4m 25s
  9. 7m 38s
    1. Finding your most valuable service or product
      5m 2s
    2. Dropping your least valuable service or product
      2m 36s
  10. 7m 11s
    1. Launching a business with little or no money
      3m 25s
    2. Operating on a shoestring budget
      3m 46s
  11. 6m 16s
    1. Determining your company vision
      3m 42s
    2. Building company values
      2m 34s
  12. 8m 1s
    1. Managing your time
      4m 45s
    2. Tracking expenses and receipts
      3m 16s
  13. 6m 38s
    1. Deciding on your channels
      3m 11s
    2. Crafting a multi-platform message
      3m 27s
  14. 13m 43s
    1. Business Entities and Compensation
      10m 0s
    2. Determining your pay as owner
      3m 43s
  15. 9m 41s
    1. Understanding small business accounting
      3m 28s
    2. Reading a financial report (P&L and Balance Sheet)
      6m 13s
  16. 8m 5s
    1. Refining your message
      4m 56s
    2. Testing and tracking performance
      3m 9s
  17. 9m 18s
    1. Leveraging documentation to increase efficiency
      4m 53s
    2. Creating single-page documentation
      4m 25s
  18. 9m 28s
    1. Focusing both at home and at work
      4m 7s
    2. Rewarding yourself along the way
      5m 21s
  19. 7m 23s
    1. Understanding the role of sales in small business success
      4m 8s
    2. Developing your sales system
      3m 15s
  20. 7m 43s
    1. Separating ideas from viable business opportunities
      4m 26s
    2. Testing your business concept
      3m 17s
  21. 6m 10s
    1. Finding the right tasks to outsource
      3m 18s
    2. Selecting and hiring vendors
      2m 52s
  22. 11m 23s
    1. Crafting a job and pay range
      3m 58s
    2. Interviewing candidates
      7m 25s
  23. 8m 49s
    1. Discovering what truly motivates people
      4m 25s
    2. Developing people and paths
      4m 24s
  24. 11m 18s
    1. Crafting your pitch
      5m 40s
    2. Finding funding opportunities
      5m 38s

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Small Business Secrets
3h 13m Appropriate for all Apr 15, 2014 Updated Sep 16, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Are you thinking about starting a small business, freelancing, or turning a hobby into a full-time job? Or perhaps you're already running your own business and need some inspiration to take it to the next level. Each week, join small business coach Dave Crenshaw for two short lessons that reveal the secrets of running a successful small business. This series covers topics such as getting started, writing a business plan, determining your most valuable product or service, hiring people, managing processes, documenting systems, bootstrapping, seeking funding, accounting, controlling costs and profit margins, marketing, creating culture, and more.

Subjects:
Business Productivity Business Skills
Author:
Dave Crenshaw

Working through complaints

- Most business owners really don't like getting complaints. You've put a lot of hard work and effort into your business, and then someone comes along and says they don't like something about it, it's your baby. Well, the reality is, complaints are actually opportunities in disguise. They're opportunities to improve the way you do business, and they're opportunities to get more customers. In this video, I'm going to walk you through my green, yellow, red method of responding to complaints.

It's something I covered in depth in my course on thinking like a leader, but I'm going to come at this time from the standpoint of being a small business owner. Now, the first thing I need to say is, if we only received a complaint about something once, we usually don't need to do anything about it. I mean, of course, if it's horrible, you need to do something about it, but often there are just weird things that happen in a business. If it's happened once, just ignore it, leave it alone. But, if it happens more than once, then there is a pattern, and we can put a change into place to make sure that pattern changes.

Now, let's talk about green complaints. Green complaints are actually suggestions. They come from happy customers. They like your business, they're loyal to it, but perhaps they saw something that you could change. They're making a suggestion for improvement. Now, keep in mind that big companies invest tens of thousands of dollars into getting customer feedback, and now, a customer is giving it to you for free. That means your initial reaction to it should be gratitude.

You should say, "Thank you, so much, "for telling me about this thing." And I recommend that you write it down, consider whether or not you're going to take action on it, and ultimately reward that customer for sharing that feedback with you. You can do something that doesn't cost a lot of money, perhaps you give them movie tickets, or a dinner out, but always be grateful for suggestions from happy customers. Next up are yellow complaints.

Yellow complaints are the most abundant kind of complaint you'll receive. They come from customers who aren't happy. You didn't meet their expectation in some way and they want you to make it right. When you get a yellow complaint, think of a yellow light, which means slow down. Take a moment and listen to what they have to say. I recommend that you take notes on what they're telling you. Taking notes, even if you don't use those notes, communicate to the customer that what they're saying is very important, and you don't want to miss out on anything that they're saying.

Then, you make it right, you do whatever it takes to resolve that complaint and help them be happy again. But we're not done yet, we want to make it right plus. The plus means we're going to do something a little bit more than what they expected. Perhaps we give them a discount, or a free month, or whatever it is, just something extra that communicates to them, "We're sorry, we're so grateful "to have you as a loyal customer, "and please keep doing business with us." In my experience, the make it right plus has actually resulted in many people getting more referrals and getting glowing testimonials.

Customers who were once upset now are thrilled because you care about them. Now, let's talk about red complaints. These are where people are hostile. They're angry, they're upset, they may be yelling, they may be threatening to sue your business. These kind of complaints have to be dealt with carefully. When you get a read complaint, think about the red light and stop. Your temptation may be to defend, to argue, to explain why they're wrong.

Instead, stop and just listen. Listen until they get it all out. This is very important, because not only will this diffuse some of the anger that's there, but it will also protect you legally, because you don't want to say something that might be used against you in the future. No, instead we let them get it all out, and perhaps take notes on what they're saying, and then when they're done, I would recommend you ask, "Are you done?" Give them an opportunity to vent it all while you just sit quietly.

Then, ask them an if then question. "If we do this, then will you be happy?" Try to get to whatever it is that they want to resolve the situation. I'm not necessarily saying that you always give in to a red complaint, because often, someone's just being unreasonable, but you do want to figure out exactly what it is they want you to do and get them to agree to it. Then, you can decide what you want to do, whether you want to provide that to them and resolve their complaint.

But by stopping and listening and taking time you'll do a much better job of resolving red complaints. One last comment about online complaints. What if someone goes onto a review site, or goes onto your company page and complains publicly about something that you did? How do we handle that? Well, my first recommendation is to respond directly to it. Don't hide, don't try to get it removed unless it's absolutely offensive.

No, we want that complaint to be there. Online complaints are opportunities. They're really a chance for you to advertise how great your company is. By using this green, yellow, red system, you can more effectively turn customer complaints into opportunities.

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