When I was growing up, my father used to always remind me that “you can’t please everyone, all of the time.” And, I truly subscribed to that until I started working in Corporate America where I was told that the “customer is always right.”
Surely, you can see how in the process of building a business how these competing schools of thought can set a business owner back, right?
And the truth is, the customer isn’t always right, but the customer always deserves to be treated in a manner that is satisfactory. However, because satisfaction is in the eye of the beholder, you have to process an inquiry in a way that allows you to get a firm understanding of the situation, the expectations and what is necessary to get it right.
If you’re going to build a business, I can guarantee that you will come face to face with a dissatisfied client. That’s why I’m so glad that Blake, my creative director, asked the question I’m answering this week on Incredible Factor TV:
“How do you handle a dissatisfied client?”
Check out my response to Blake’s question in this week’s episode:
As I shared in the episode, the first thing you always need to do is get clear. Until you are crystal clear about the who, what, when, why and how of the dissatisfaction – listen and don’t speak. Unless you need to ask a clarifying question, of course.
Beyond that, here are my recommendations for handling a dissatisfied client:
1. Get calm. Our natural reaction to most things is to defend ourselves. Resist that, please. Calm down and don’t heighten the situation. Instead, take the time to get the information you need to effectively process the inquiry.
2. Get on the phone. Whatever you do, do not try to resolve or respond via email. PICK UP THE PHONE. Period. A heightened situation will only get worse if it’s not addressed head on. And the best way to do that is to talk. I have found that a conversation can resolve the issue more often than it can’t. Taking the time to pick up the phone goes a long way, especially in a time when everyone wants to email and text. Even if you can’t resolve the situation in the call, it will speak volumes to your integrity.
3. Get to listening. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When there has been a misunderstanding (which is typically at the root of client dissatisfaction), listening goes a long way. Often, the client just wants to be heard and told that they matter. This is why growing too fast can hurt your business if you’re not properly staffed to handle the extra volume; a dissatisfied client could just be feeling neglected. Be sure to ask what they are seeking to resolve the concern and allow for an opportunity to move on.
4. Get all the pertinent information. We all know what assuming does – so make no assumptions. Instead, learn everything you need to know and then step away from the situation long enough to process. Do yourself a favor and don’t process in the moment – trust me, you’ll be reacting.
5. Get apologetic. Regardless of the situation, I recommend apologizing because perception is reality. An apology demonstrates empathy and helps the other party understand and see that you are concerned about what matters to them. Because an apology goes a long way it can make a big difference in the future of the relationship. The reason a little “I’m sorry,” goes a long way is because we are all human and everyone wants to be heard. By acknowledging that you mismanaged the relationship of ensuring their needs were met, defenses will come down and resolutions will enter the picture.
6. Get creative. As you hear your client share what they want instead of what they received, get creative. By focusing intently on the need of your client, you’ll invite more options to resolve the concern to show up. Use your creativity to find an effective win/win.
7. Get resolved. As you work with your client to handle their issue, resolve it. Take a firm stance in communicating the resolution and how you will go forward beyond the situation. Yes, there is life beyond dissatisfaction and if you take your time and resolve it authentically, you’ll walk away respected, with respect and determining what your next steps will be.
Now, I want to hear from you: What’s your two cents? What else should be done when you have a dissatisfied client? How should you handle it to salvage the relationship?
©2015 by Darnyelle A. Jervey. All Rights Reserved. Darnyelle A. Jervey, MBA, The Incredible Factor Business Optimization Coach and Mentor, is the founder of Incredible One Enterprises®, Incredible Factor University® and the Leverage Your Incredible Factor System®, a proven step-by-step program so you experience financial and spiritual abundance in your life because of your business. For more information and a FREE audio CD “7 Critical Mistakes Even Smart Entrepreneurs Must Avoid for Clients, Connection and Cash Flow!” just fill out the form below.