No matter how diligently soulpreneurs deliver their services, there’s always going to be the occasional complaint from dissatisfied clients. But just because a client is unhappy today, that doesn’t mean that the person can’t be a longterm happy customer. Being able to approach these situations effectively can lead to positive results. Here are three ways to deal with dissatisfied clients with the objective being to enhance client relationships for the future.
1) Listen and engage with the complaint.
The old phrase ‘water off a duck’s back’ should never under any circumstances be employed when dealing with a dissatisfied client. After all they are the whole reason that businesses exist, and even if their issue isn’t necessarily reasonable it is always appropriate to listen, empathize and then take action.
Being able to listen to a complaint is absolutely essential — even if it is sometimes difficult to do so. Remember that when people are making a complaint that they are essentially ‘venting’ their emotions — interrupting, correcting, challenging or being dismissive while they do so will never lead to a positive outcome. Allow them the chance to state their case.
Engage with the issues that they have raised. If they are legitimate then apologize, and far more importantly empathize and then look for a resolution to the problem. This may involve making small sacrifices, such as the cost of a service if you offer a refund. Upon resolution of the issue, take the courtesy to follow up and provide aftercare — again leaving a highly positive and professional image.
2) Collaboration can create positive future relationships.
Clients love to build unique relationships with their service providers — and in many cases these develop from the dissatisfaction. Ironic as it may seem, taking the time to resolve an issue while also taking particular interest in the client and his or her life will allow the opportunity to suggest courses of future business engagement.
Suggest where you can work more effectively with the client in the future. Carried out effectively this can turn a complaint into extremely effective business networking opportunity.
3) Be consistent when ‘raising the bar.’
You can be sure of one thing — taking extra lengths to resolve the issues being raised by a dissatisfied client will result in the word getting around. At worst this will make your operation appear a ‘soft touch’ and other clients will expect your services to carry out the same level of performance as a matter of course, even during typical operations.
For that reason don’t treat one customer complaint different from another. Come up with a plan in advance for how you will deal with complaints, whether it’s offering a refund or giving the client a discount on an upcoming service. Word of mouth is powerful and you don’t want to gain a reputation for being unfair.