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BBB: May cooler heads prevail during stressful shopping

The holidays have a special way of bringing out the best – and sometimes worst – in all of us.

November and December provide abundant opportunities for business transactions: shopping for gifts, grabbing Black Friday deals, making travel plans, catching up with relatives, attending holiday parties. The list goes on and on.

These two months also bring anxiety. Finances are tight, schedules are full, and that stress can rear its Grinch-like head during business transactions. Whether you’re a business owner, employee or a consumer, remember this: Stay calm and be kind.

The majority of complaints the BBB receives happen because there was a communication breakdown. Customers often felt they were wronged. Sometimes they tried to resolve it with the business first and felt they were ignored, and then finally feel their only option is to escalate to us.

Businesses also may feel offended and defensive that their company has been attacked; it can be personal. As a neutral third party, we do not take sides. The BBB simply helps facilitate communication between the business and the consumer to try and reach a resolution

I’m certainly not saying businesses should give in to every consumer’s whim and give in to unreasonable demands. But responding in a respectful and courteous manner, explaining your position and why you can or cannot give what is requested, can go a long way to validate a customer’s concerns. Keep in mind that in today’s world of online reviews, the last thing you want is a flaming mad consumer ranting about you online. I’m often asked, “Does it look bad to have a complaint on my record?” My answer is always the same: “No.”

Even if you’re a business owner, you’re a consumer too. Imagine comparing two companies before you do business with them. You find that they both have good ratings and a long business history. Company A has no complaints. Company B has one resolved complaint. As a reasonable consumer, you know that it’s realistic that any business, no matter how awesome their customer service is, may have a complaint. When stress runs high, avoid issues by researching companies before purchasing with them. The BBB has many resources of non-biased information available to anyone looking to do business with a company:

Ratings: A+ through F ratings, like in school, are earned by every company in our region based on numerous factors including length of time in business, complaint volume, size of company, and past government actions to name a few.

Complaint detail: We publish the communication between the consumer and the business so that you can see the details of the issue and determine for yourself if the consumer was reasonable and if the business was respectful in their handling of the complaint.

Customer reviews: Unlike many other customer review forums out there, we vet the reviews that come through to make sure they are legitimate and not just an internet bot or crazy reviewer bent on smashing your business without actually doing business with you. Put your best foot forward, especially in times of high stress and emotion like the holidays. Deal with every situation with the same aplomb and consideration you would give on even your slowest, no-stress day.