We all hope that all clients will be happy and satisfied with our business products and services. But not everyone will be and sometimes you might be faced with an extremely angry person who is very upset.
When this happens, there are seven things that you can do to handle the situation:
1. Stay calm - Even if you find that your emotions are rising, it is very important that you do not allow yourself to become upset. This would just escalate the situation and might result in you doing or saying something that you will regret. Instead, take a breath and remember that you are a professional who needs to act like one.
2. Be a good listener - Allow the client to state the complaint without interrupting. You do not, however, need to take abuse and should clearly identify this and ask the client to focus on the problem if this happens.
3. Clarify - If you can summarize the client's position, this will help him/her to know that you were listening and do understand. It will also give them an opportunity to correct anything that you might have misunderstood.
4. Ask the client what they would like to see happen to resolve this - Sometimes a client just wants to be heard. When you ask them what they want, it helps them to focus on a solution rather than ona the problem. Sometimes they might just want an apology which you can provide on the spot.
5. Tell them what you can't do - Talk about the boundaries and limits that you have. These might be set out by your professional body or your personal ethics.
6. Outline what you can do - Provide the client with a list of options that you can pursue and ask them to help you to choose the most appropriate one for the situation. Then make sure that you state a timeline and goal date for this to be done.
7. Document the conversation - Make sure that you clearly write down the problem, options considered and the plan that you have made to resolve the issue. If you do this while you are talking with the client, you can read it back and ask if you have written it out correctly. Then promise that you will get back to the client by the goal date to assure them that you have done what you promised.
When a client feels upset, s/he needs to know that someone has listened and that there is a plan in place to resolve their issue. When you follow the above steps you can feel confident that you have dealt with the situation appropriately and will likely gain respect from the client in the process.
Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email firstname.lastname@example.org