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BBB survey says consumers first complain to businesses

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 11:47 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 11:49 a.m. CST

CHICAGO — A majority of consumers who are displeased with a product or service prefer to complain directly to a business or manufacturer before taking any other actions, according to a recent poll by the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB). The poll also shows that few consumers go online to state their dissatisfaction.

The largest single response (43 percent) of unhappy consumers in the poll was to verbally complain to the business or manufacture. Others would simply never return to the business again (32 percent), email the business or manufacturer (11 percent) or verbally tell others not to use the business or product (9 percent).

The poll was taken by 740 BBB website visitors. It was run from mid-June until mid-July.

"These poll results show that consumers are willing to speak with a business to resolve problems," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Being a leader in helping businesses and consumers in complaint resolution, the BBB knows that written complaints are more effective."

Bernas advises consumers to write to businesses when they have complaints. By writing complaints, a consumer is able to explain the situation and give the business a thorough understanding of their expectations.

For businesses, complaints should be viewed as opportunities to change and improve, noted Bernas. He said they need to take negative experiences as an incentive to explore their practices.

Consumers need to be treated as valuable resources," the BBB president explained. "When a business loses a consumer, it loses money. By creating negative experiences, a business is missing out on an opportunity for a repeat consumer."

The data emphasizes the need for businesses to make consumer interaction a positive experience. It also shows that consumers would help businesses by giving honest feedback about products and services.

For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.

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