Thursday, February 28, 2013

Handling Complaints

Pleasing all the people all of the time isn't reality. Learning how to handle complaints and unhappy patients is a valuable skill to keep the integrity of your brand and business. Here is a sure fire method to turn complaints into satisfied customers!

No matter what happened or how it happened apologize upfront. Even if the customer isn't always right they need to feel heard and their opinion is valued. Don't be defensive. Hear out their concern and respond back validating what you hear. The magic words to conclude the customer's concern are to thank them for their complaint. Reinforce that your business values continuous improvement and we can't improve without knowing what to fix. Many times these customers are geared up for a fight, but these magic words tend to diffuse the situation instantly.

Once you understand the concern, recover the patient's confidence. You don't want to feel taken advantage of but generally the offer of a voucher, a discount, or a free service will appease the client. Another approach is ask the customer, "What can I do to make this right?". This lets you know what the customer feels is fair retribution. For the most part people will be fair and not demand the world. Try to meet them at least half way. If you have a repeated complaint, review the true cause and brainstorm solutions with your staff. Proactively educating customers and staff on your policies via  printed materials, website, and posted signs can go a long way to create expectations and a collective understanding to prevent some incidents from ever occurring.

Things will go wrong. Complaints are going to happen. Reframe complaints as an opportunity to grow, improve, and wow a customer with how your business responds. Also be aware that there are serial complainers out there. These are people aren't happy unless they are unhappy about something.  If you experience a continued complainer, a suggestion is to have an honest conversation with them. Explain they are always welcome, but your services might not measure up and they might prefer another provider better able to meet their needs. 

Learn to see complaints as an vehicle to drive better customer satisfaction and you will increase patient loyalty and build a positive business image. Do you have other tips for how you deal with complaints? Please share below.