Try as you might, it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. Being in the service industry, there will always be that handful of clients who aren’t happy for one reason or another. This is especially the case as your practice grows. Knowing how to respond to client complaints can do more than just diffuse an unpleasant situation. It can actually mean the difference between losing revenue and gaining a loyal client for life. So, without further ado, here are five expert tips for turning client complaints into profitable opportunities.
Hear them out.
In many cases, a client complaint can be resolved by simply allowing them to vent and feel heard. Regardless of whether or not you feel the complaint is valid, it matters to your client, and therefore it should matter to you as well. When someone brings up a problem with your service or staff, whether real or perceived, the first step is giving them the chance to explain where they are coming from and listening attentively.
Remain calm and objective.
Your practice is your baby. You’ve invested endless amounts of blood, sweat and tears into making it a success. So when a client voices an opinion that doesn’t exactly paint your business in a positive light, it’s easy to become defensive. The key to effectively resolving client complaints in a way that is both positive and productive, however, is remaining as objective as possible. Resist the urge to argue or respond emotionally. Remember – even though it may feel personal, in most cases it’s just business.
Acknowledge their feelings.
Regardless of whether you feel the complaint is valid, it’s real to the client. Acknowledge their feelings in a way that is genuine and sincere. It’s not about admitting fault, it’s about validating the person’s feelings, and in many instances, this can be enough to turn the situation around. When possible, explain that you will take appropriate measures to address the problem at hand. This demonstrates your willingness to make a bad experience right for your clientele.
Train your team.
In many instances, client complaints will be fielded – at least initially – by other members of your team, such as your front desk staff. As such, effective conflict management should be a part of your overall training strategy to ensure that everyone understands how to handle a tense situation that may arise with a disgruntled client. Train them to always act professionally and educate them on the various techniques for diffusing contentious conversations. Most of all let them know you have their back and are willing to step in if need be. Enact change where necessary.
Some client complaints will inevitably uncover areas where improvements can and should be made within your practice. For instance, one negative comment about a rude receptionist is one thing, but when there’s a pattern of multiple similar complaints, it’s time to make some serious changes. Use client complaints as an opportunity to make your practice even better and enhance the service you provide to your clients. Doing so will be beneficial to everyone.
Having a client complain can be frustrating, but it’s par for the course. In fact, as your practice continues to grow, the likelihood of the occasional negative feedback also goes up. Having a plan in place for how to handle any situation that may come along can help you not only improve the chances of winning back that unhappy client, but also help you wow future clients with your amazing service.