Listen intently to what the client is saying and try to identify the heart of the matter. Not everyone will get to the point right away and it can get boring in between the story line. Allow patience to prevail, so that you don’t miss what is being said. Sometimes, we simply don’t pay attention because of our impatience. Ask all questions necessary to get a clear picture of the issue.
The repeat-back strategy prevents confusion and promotes clarity; a necessary ingredient to properly service a client. Ask the person if what you are saying are the correct words he or she said to you. And state clearly what the intent is of the client and what is the question, if any.
- Is the complaint legitimate? Could something of this nature really have happened? To what degree should this client expect resolve?
- What are the client’s expectations? Are they reasonable? Unreasonable?
- What is the client’s responsibility, if any?
- What is your responsibility? (If you’ve made a mistake, own it. If you’ve been unclear about something and it’s come back to you, accept what is and consider it a learning experience).
- How would you feel if the situation were reversed?
You can easily diffuse a situation by not disagreeing and remaining neutral, non confrontational, and courteous. After assessing the issue, you can say something such as, “I’m sorry for your inconvenience and/or for the misunderstanding and I will look into the matter for you.”
Even if the resolution isn’t exactly what the client anticipated, the manner in which it was handled may resonate more than the actual outcome. The customer isn’t always right, but you needn’t actually tell them that they are wrong.
You may not be selling a tangible item, but the same principles still apply. It all starts with understanding the client’s basic needs and to close the deal wherein everyone feels good about the outcome. You’re working with them, not against them – guiding towards a path of solution.
Have your business policy up front and visible
Use clear and concise language in your business policy. Leave no gray area. Always have it handy when in dispute. It’s your Bible. When something is in black and white, it’s almost impossible to dispute otherwise. Your policy will always be your point of reference.
Try to do all possible to save or build your reputation to insure repeat business and future referrals. Please don’t allow flippant words and regrettable actions to haunt you.
And, oh…one more old adage: “If you don’t bend, you break.”
I hope this series has provided you with useful ideas and knowledge and that, somehow, you will be able to apply these principles to the benefit of your career and your life.