Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ten Ways to handle a Client Complaint

Most clients don't complain. Often if they are dissatisfied they just stop doing business with you. If a client does complain about you or your service however they are doing you a service and enabling you to improve your business. Here are some tips on handling the complaint:

1.     Listen

Resist the temptation to argue with the client. Instead ask questions to get to the bottom of the situation. What is the client really upset about? Rephrase what the client says so he/she knows you understand the issue.

2.     Don't be defensive

This will get in the way of your listening to the client. Allow the client the time to be heard. If you get defensive you'll build a wall between you and the client. Try to find ways to build a bridge so that you are aligned with the client.

3.     If it was your mistake fix it immediately and apologize.

We all make mistakes at times. Check to see if there is anything in your office procedure that can help you to avoid a similar mistake again.

4.     Research the problem before you make any decisions.

Find out what actually happened. Is a system in your office not working correctly? Does it need to be fixed? Has the client misunderstood something? For complex problems give yourself time to figure out a resolution.

5.     Look for lessons in the situation

If the situation was caused by something you or your staff control, find a way to fix it for the future. This means assessing the systems you have in place and your methods and procedures. It also may mean retraining an employee or employees.

6.     Reeducate the client when necessary

How did you set client expectations? Were you clear about what he / she could expect? Help the client to understand the process now to guard against future misunderstandings.

7.     Know that if one client complained there are others feeling the same way.

What do you need to do to address the problem with the others? Who else might have been affected in the same way?

8.     Give client choice of possible resolutions.

How can you make this right with the client? Negotiate a way that works for both of you. Sometimes just fixing the problem is sufficient. At other times the client is looking for something else. Look for an equitable resolution.

9.     Thank the client for helping you with your business.

As painful as they can be complaints from clients often let you know exactly where you need to work to improve your practice.

10.Follow up with those who complained to be sure they are fully satisfied.

If you have altered a system or changed a way of doing business and the client is affected by that change, follow up to be sure that the client noted the change.

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