Face it. We’ve all been there. We’ve all been on the giving side of complaints, as well as the receiving end.
While we may not hesitate to be the one complaining about bad service, or a less than perfect product, the thought of being on the receiving end is enough to make most Business professionals bristle and cringe. Many view complaints as an unpleasant situation where a disgruntled client, or even a team member, wastes precious time by voicing their woes and pointing out perceived flaws and errors.
As Business Owners, we all know being able to handle negative feedback in a positive way takes plenty of practice. But we also need to remember complaints are not always a bad thing. It’s like the old adage, “Complaints are merely a request for service” these situations can be a valuable marketing fact-finding tool, and something business owners need to be open to receiving.
When it’s Them: It’s the law of averages; the longer you’re in business and the more customers you deal with, the more likely complaints will eventually surface. Instead of dreading complaints; however, why not welcome them?
From time to time, we all ask for client feedback, in the way of surveys, or simply by calling our clients to find out how things are going. While it’s great for telling you what you did wrong. It’s often terrible at telling you what you should do next. I’m not saying we should chuck client feedback out with the bath water though, because most of the time it has a lot of value. However, why not adopt a similar mindset where we as business owners and managers view complaints and use them to pinpoint ways our companies can do business better. If more than a couple people have an issue with the way you provide one of your services, or handle certain parts of your business, it should be red flag that there might be a glitch in your system.Instead of reacting to complaints in a negative way, use them to pinpoint ways we can be better business owners.
Once a complaint is brought to your attention, you need to work quickly and professionally to resolve the situation. Chances are, your clients will have no problem giving you a second chance if their complaint is handled successfully and in a timely manner. The key here is “timely.” Making an upset wait wait on hold, or wait days for a response to an email while you fumble for an answer (or a comeback) will only make the situation worse. By letting the client know you are not only listening, but also interested in resolving the situation, it increases the potential to turn a bad situation into an opportunity to turn them into a satisfied client.
Apologize, gather the facts, acknowledge the issue at hand and begin the work together to find what may be needed to rectify the situation.
When it’s You: If you’re the one doing the complaining, work to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. Offer ideas and possible scenarios to make the current situation better. Also work to banish phrases like, “You never” or “You always” from your vocabulary. Statements like these are ineffective and confrontational, and only add fuel to the frustration fires that may already be burning. Instead, replace that phrase with more “we” statement as in, “We may have a problem with _______ (fill in the blank). Let’s put our heads together and figure it out.”
By reframing the way you perceive client complaints, as well as the manner in which you complain about something, you can work to choose thoughts that will lead your team, business relationships, and clients toward a solution, instead of poopooing the problem or responding in a confrontational way.
Be part of the solution, rather than the problem!