Sometimes, as professionals, we forget to use good manners. We might offend someone or just do something that is a little inconsiderate and then refuse to acknowledge how the person might be affected. I was talking with a friend the other day about how a sincere apology can be exactly the right solution to resolve an issue or settle a disgruntled client.
Sometimes hurt or upset can fester or even escalate. Think about a time that you might have been dealing with a business and had a concern. If the personnel either ignored you or didn't let you fully explain your concern, you likely became more upset. In fact, you might try harder and harder just to be heard. When you are dealing with clients who have an issue there are a few steps that you can take to resolve the situation:
- Make sure that you listen to what the client is saying.
- Politely repeat back the concern in summary format so that they know you have heard them.
- Apologize for the error or situation that has occurred.
- Ask what the client would like to have done in order to resolve the issue.
- Tell the client what you can and cannot do about the situation. You might, for example, not have the power to make a change but could explain that you will make sure that the owner of the company gets the information.
- Make sure that you do not make promises for other people. You cannot state when or if the owner will return the call or do anything about the situation. Be careful that you only talk about what you will do.
- Explain your limitations. It is important that you explain what you cannot do. Say, for example, "I just answer the phones here, so I do not have the authority to solve this. But I will make sure that the owner of the business gets your message and the information that you have provided."
Sometimes the client just needs to hear a warm, human voice state "I'm sorry that you are feeling upset right now". That acknowledgment and connection with the client might actually be the exact thing that will lower the emotions and help the client to talk and think in a much more reasonable state of mind.
The Golden rule states "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Think about it. There are times that each of us just wants to hear another person say, "I'm sorry".