In part one I described how to avoid complaints. But what can you do to turn things around when something has gone wrong?
Now you have an upset or angry client, so how do you handle this like a boss? Here’s my proven formula that will get people back on track quickly.
Step 1: Ask what happened and listen in carefully. The best and fastest way to diffuse an anger bomb is to make someone feel listened to. So ask questions and be on their side. Avoid getting defensive or hurt by the complaint like the plague. Your negative emotional response will only fuel their fire. Listen in and take things on the chin.
Step 2: Repeat back their concerns to make sure they know you were paying attention. This is also a great tool to help build empathy.
Step 3: Apologise! I know many people say not to do this, but the evidence is stacked against them. You are not admitting liability by apologising. You are demonstrating that you are a good human being. Say something like, “Mrs Emery; firstly, thank you for the feedback. Secondly, I’m so sorry that was your experience today, that doesn’t make me happy at all. I hear what you say, and I think that if I were in your shoes, I’d feel the same way.”
Instead of the somewhat passive-aggressive “I’m sorry you feel that way”.
Step 4: Ask what they would, like you to do about the issue. Again listen in and repeat back their request(s). You may or may not be able to meet their demands, and you may not feel that it is warranted. However, asking and listening is key to building empathy and helping the client to feel engaged.
Step 5: If the demand is reasonable, and you have the authority, then meet it. If not, or you do not have the authority, then tell them that you will discuss the feedback and requests with your boss and get back to them. Then make sure you do just that. Even if you cannot meet their demands, I assure you that by listening and apologising, most clients will feel a lot happier and get over the issue.
By following these strategies, you will encounter far fewer problems with clients in your career and be far more likely to have a happier, more productive time in your career as a veterinarian.
In the next article we'll cover how to set goals and nail them so you have an awesome career. Stay tuned.