Turn a Client Complaint into Positive Word-of-Mouth, Part 2

Previously we began upon the topic of turning a client complaint into a positive, word-of-mouth prospecting opportunity. It is amazing at how simple it can be (but not always easy…!) —to turn a negative into a positive. It is all in how you choose to respond.

The first step in turning a negative into a positive is, as we indicated last week, to take responsibility and personal ownership in the problem. If the client has a problem, then you have a problem, and it makes no difference whose mistake it may have been.

The second step–find out what needs to be done today to resolve the problem, and address your client’s feelings. If the client calls you with it, see what you can do to resolve it right now, with them on the phone. If that is not possible or feasible (you don’t want your client on hold for more than a few minutes), then let them know what you will be doing specifically, and that you are doing it NOW.

We just identified two issues: the client’s problem, and the client’s feelings. Which do you think is more important?

Well, if the problem puts a dire interest of your client at serious stake, let’s keep that under consideration. But most often, how your client feels about your genuine concern and overall responsiveness to them is also very important here.

It is also where you have the opportunity to make a positive impact, and become legendary.

“Legendary?” you might ask. “Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?”

When we mean legendary, we refer to the stuff that tales are made from. John, a friend of mine who was a sales rep for a commercial printer once discovered that a client’s package–which a third-party vendor was assigned to ship overnight–did not go out overnight, but by ground. John did not uncover the error until the next morning, before the package was to arrive.

Did John call the client to deliver the bad news? Fortunately for him, the client was only five hours away by car. Yes, he called them with the news, but also to inform them that he was on his way and that it would be there by three o’clock that afternoon with the expected materials.

The client, which was a regional hospital, quickly understood what my colleague was doing. No hesitation. No making excuses. No shrugging it off. My friend took responsibility and turned a negative event into a positive demonstration of his caring and commitment. It was a story they told when asked about the quality of service of him and his employer.

John’s reaction, which was decisive and swift, was not only sensitive to the needs of the client…but to the client’s feelings. How would YOU feel if you received a call informing you of a problem (that could decide your job) with no proposed solution?

Review my friend David Cohen’s account of the problem his client had. What was David’s reaction to the complaint? Fix it. Address the feelings of your client. Put yourself in their shoes–and let them know you care about how they feel.

Make your client feel honored and joyful that you care, are there for them, and they will sing your praises every chance they get.

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