116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The pandemic continues to keep business owners on their toes.
Due to the conditions and challenges many businesses have faced in the past 18 months, more companies are finding it increasingly difficult to adequately staff their establishments. Compounding those issues are the more recent shortages and price increases related to supply chain difficulties.
One of the biggest casualties in all of this has been civility.
We are all familiar with the news stories of assaults involving disgruntled customers and inappropriate behavior on airplanes. Just about every business establishment has been subjected to some degree of consumer vitriol.
The BBB has up close and personal experience with this as we counsel on a daily basis those who are disgruntled with a business interaction, due to slow delivery of products, price increases or customer service concerns.
As we are increasingly exposed to these difficult experiences, it is imperative to remember that there is no easy or simple way to sort through these complex problems.
In the last analysis, the one word answer — communication — seems simple but it is in fact not easy.
Confidence in the adage, “The customer is always right,” is coming under fire every day. Overworked staff from a hospital employee to servers at a favorite restaurant are reaching a breaking point.
Yet today it is especially critical to never underestimate the power of unhappy customers.
Having trust in particular business, no matter what it is, cannot be minimized. In fact, it is the BBB Vision to promote an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other.
BBB recommends that you develop and implement a program to keep your business thriving during this tumultuous time.
- Come up with a strategy — Assign that responsibility to specific staff members to develop a collaborative plan in communicating information relating to shortages and the like.
- Clearly communicate with customers — Once you determine your course, make those arrangements clear to customers and employees.
Consistent communication will help everyone understand expectations. For example, if you have modified your hours clearly post and communicate those changes.
If you have product shortages inform your customers and determine what your alternatives.
Do not be afraid to ask for patience.
- Give employees extra training — If your employees are being exposed to dealing with difficult people, give them guidance so that they can respectfully address issues and make appropriate explanations.
Be sure employees understand how to handle potentially volatile situations. Training will give your employees confidence and let them know you care about their well-being.
- Protect your business reputation — As a business owner, do everything that you can to preserve your viability and good name.
You may need to change how problems are approached, especially in light of the labor and goods shortages, so be diligent when working to overcome barriers.
Bobby Hansen is regional director for the Better Business Bureau Cedar Rapids office; (319) 365-1190.