The Opportunity of a Complaint
So many people fear negative feedback and hearing complaints. But what many people don’t realize is a complaint is an opportunity for a few things. You can learn more about current and potential clients, make a change from the complaint or you can work to educate the person complaining about your company.
One of my clients just received a complaint about an issue that was very trivial in the realm of their business but it was a daily customer of theirs that wanted their needs to be heard.
The first thing you need to do when you get a complaint is understand it. You may think you understand their complaint completely but the truth is asking a few more questions could really open the door to a great dialogue. The person who originally complained in the above situation had brought a lot of other items into the complaint that was out of the control of the company including weather issues. The best thing to do was to summarize what they were feeling that was relevant back to them and then ask them a few questions to really narrow down the issue. This completely opened up the door for a great conversation that immediately became more friendly and open. People are dying to be heard and to feel validated in their feelings. Take the time to understand how your business made them feel.
After you understand the issue you need to filter the issue from the emotions. This is a time to reflect on whether or not it is a valid issue. Years ago when I was a crazy people pleaser I would have made big changes just to make one person happy no matter how it inconveinced me or the people I was working with. But truthfully you built a business on values and knowledge. You need to evaluate the complaint and see how it fits with how you operate your business, how it effects your staff and the rest of your clients. Luckily many times complaints are easy fixes, however sometimes they aren’t and they take time to find the right solution.
The key to making a complaint an opportunity is communication. They need to be heard. You need to understand. However once that is done there is an opportunity for you to help them understand too. Maybe you offer your services this way because it provides a better end product. I find this issue a lot with my government clients. They have set up a procedure to take care of something but the person making the complaint didn’t know there was a procedure and are usually very happy to hear that it’s already been solved.
Once you’ve understood their issue and taken the time to do that you have a dialogue not a monologue. This opens the door for you to teach the person why you do what you do. Keep their feelings in mind when you talk with them and remember that digital communication like emails and social media does not have a tone. Re-read your email in the most positive tone and then re-read it in a negative tone. Make changes accordingly.
A complaint is not the end of the world. But if a person took the time to make one, I believe they deserve the respect as your current or potential client to be heard.