Into every life a little rain must fall. Even in the best run business, eventually you will get an unhappy client, be they internal or external.

One of the key’s to managing unhappy people is recognizing that you only see the end of the process. Before the client comes to you, they have to be getting mad enough to make a complaint. This can take anywhere from several minutes to a number of days. So, they will be completely unpatient and unreasonable with regard to giving you the time you need to resolve their complaint. What’s the solution?

Give them a definate number. Say “I will contact you in 1 day. If I don’t have an answer for you then, I will be able to say WHY I don’t have an answer, and how much longer it should take to get one.”

What this does is it acknowledges their complaint. Sometimes, simply guaranteeing to a person that you are actually listening to them is enough to give you the time you need to resolve their complaint. Then, if you keep the timeframe that you promised, you’re well along the road to converting a complaining client into a satisfied customer. Break that timeframe and you’ve lost almost any hope of conversion.

So, the key first step is to listen and acknowledge them. Don’t let people get lost in the voicemail or the email jungle. Respond quickly to acknowledge that you have received their complaint, and then work to resolve it if possible.

Originally posted on April 26, 2006 @ 10:00 pm


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