Do you welcome the chance to interact with your potential customers? Many small business owners often see customers as an annoyance, despite them being the source of their annual turnover. Instead of making it easy for customers to purchase, to get information or try before they buy, they become frustrated and see them as a hindrance.

Many would even say that their business would run a lot more smoothly if they didn’t have to deal with annoying complaints and difficult demands. Interestingly these business owners often run very successful companies despite their general antipathy towards customers.

It’s true that customers have changed in the last five years or so and have become far more demanding. The average consumer has become empowered because the internet has made it possible for them to access more information than previously. Many potential customers are now better informed about the product or service they are considering purchasing, often more than the salesperson trying to help them.

Customers are not only better informed, they expect more from the companies that they deal with. They expect that if a company promises to get back to an email inquiry within one business day that is what will happen. If it doesn’t, they feel quite within their rights to tell their friends about it on Facebook, or send a tweet to the company to vent their irritation. In the past the business owner would never hear about complaints so blatantly.

But before you throw up your arms in frustration, you need to realise that someone complaining on social media is actually the best-case scenario because at least they are giving you a chance to respond and rectify matters. Apart from social media, there are many, many clues about how customers view your business. You simply need to see these as golden opportunities to improve the way you do things, rather than as yet another example of people’s over-the-top demands.

Solving your customer’s problems at a basic level is essential, but by ignoring your customer’s complaints and demands you’re missing out on an opportunity to streamline your customer service and attract new custom. Listen to what people are telling you, whether it be through social media, phone conversations, quick asides, high product return rates, abandoned shopping carts, drop off in website visitors.

Don’t just sweep customer feedback under the carpet but be alert to it and ready to take action to improve how they interact with you. Seeing your business from the perspective of your customers is a challenge but one that, if you rise to it, can provide an avenue for business growth and increased sales.