Olympian Abby Wambach said the thing that concerns athletes the most is when the coach ignores you. If the coach didn’t give feedback, it meant they’d given up on her. On the other hand, if she was getting coaching–even difficult or rough-around-the-edges coaching–she knew she was relevant and they believed in her. It’s time to view feedback the same way in business.
Sure, compliments feel better than complaints or even comments on where you can improve. Can you honestly say that you always appreciate this type of feedback? Maybe not. But the best thing any business can do for client relations is to treat those complaints as the gift they are.
Follow these easy steps to improve client relations
- Consider every complaint as the gift that it is. In customer oriented organizations, complaints should be embraced with the same anticipation and curiosity as those in wrapped in silver paper and a big red bow. Complaints are gifts because they are our clients’ way of offering us a second chance to get it right. When a customer doesn’t invest the time and energy to complain, you’re in deep trouble. You’ve probably lost the advantage of knowing your offer has fallen short of expectations before the problem impacts your bottom line.
- Make it easy for the customer to give this gift. Giving key accounts a single point of contact is a great strategy, but what happens when the SPOC you’ve provided is the source of the dissatisfaction? Executive relationships are vital. Giving your clients the ability to pick up the phone and share concerns directly with upper management is the business equivalent of being one of Santa’s LinkedIn connections. Direct line to the source.
- Respond quickly. Clients know you’re busy. Sometimes simply making their concern a top priority is enough to smooth rough waters. Sometimes being heard does as much to fix the problem as an actual fix does.
- Thank the gift giver. When someone gives you a gift, you express gratitude, right? In order to do so with authenticity, you have to truly see the benefit and opportunity in the feedback. If you don’t see if that way, work on your mindset. The highest form of gratitude you can convey is to fix the problem. Once fixed, make a call and acknowledge the mistake as well as how you have fixed the problem.
Handle complaints well and my guess is that you will have effectively turned a complaint into a bonding agent that will strengthen your connection with the customer. That’s an even better gift!