That just helped me in the middle of a situation to remember to do something that I always thought I did but had clearly completely forgotten to do: Let them talk it right through.
The only thing I'd possibly add to that is to learn how to handle a complaint properly. Just briefly (and this could be a 3 day course really easily):
* Listen right the way through and take attentive notes - make sure they really KNOW you are listening;
* reiterate in your own words the problem going through your notes - amend where they make changes; repeat this until you have it right from their point of view. This immediately builds trust in their minds that you as a person are really trying to get to the bottom of their issue.
*Thank them for calling and telling you about the problem / giving you the opportunity to make amends / help them out (whatever fits);
* Apologise that they have not had a good experience (note here - you are never aplogising up front for getting it wrong. It is highly unlikely at this stage that you know what, who, why, how or where the problem comes from. You are apologising that they haven't had the best experience.
Tell them that it is not your / your company's intent that the clients have a bad experience whatsoever.
* But in order for you to fix it, you now need to go and find out what has happened on your side / your people's side / your product whatever etc, get the full picture and that you will get back to them within x hours to update them.
* then go about fixing their problem according to whatever it is. That may mean 'reframing' their expectation as well, of course.
* And call them regularly (at least once / day or more according to the urgency problem) and just tell them the status. Even if nothing has changed. Nothing, but nothing, upsets a client more than no news.
It seems to take the bluff and blunder out of the voices of even the most pee-ed off clients. At least then they become ever so slightly more reasonable. Well for a short time anyway.
This was taught to me by a guy who owns an IT company in Sydney Australia with in excess of 180 staff and over 1800 clients. They are, from a company of 6 staff 8 years ago, one of Microsoft's top 10 business application resellers on the planet. Not bad.
He was the first person (and one of few I've met in 25 years) who was totally committed to 100% client satisfaction. Up until then, despite working for IBM, Lotus and other app. software houses, I'd never met anyone who was committed to that. There was alway a slight excuse that, for a myriad or reasons and excuses (mostly blaming the client and their unreasonable / uneducated expectations) in the IT game, 100% was unrealistic and unnattainable.
And his reason? He used to own restaurants where anything less than 100% potentially can close you down in weeks.
He still can't log on to a computer (seriously, his PA does it for him) but he knows how to make happy clients.
Mind you it made him incredibly difficult to deal with, from a vendor point of view - but there you go.
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