We’ve all had them. A terrible customer service experience that left us fuming. After a three-day battle with an internet company, I have a few lessons in my back pocket that may benefit the staffing and recruiting industry. While you never want to deal with an upset client, candidate or customer, these tips will help you both get the best outcome possible.

1. Admit What You Did Wrong

I know it can be hard to admit, but sometimes the problem actually is your fault. If, like my internet company, you make a giant blunder that has a very upset customer on the phone, the worst thing you can do is say “Well that normally doesn’t happen.” Or “Well, this isn’t MY fault.” Guess what – it’s not the upset client’s fault either! When a mistake is genuinely your fault, there’s no shame in admitting and – stick with me here – genuinely apologizing for it.

2. Listen to the Other Person

Whether or not you think their anger is valid, the only thing worse than upsetting someone is not actually listening. Not only does this not help either party, it’s disrespectful, and could be stopping you from getting to the real cause of the issue. In my instance, I could tell I was getting put on “mute” every time I complained – the two minutes of silence before an eventual “I apologize ma’m but there’s nothing we can do” canned answer surprisingly did not make me feel heard, understood or valued as a customer. If you’re tuning clients’ or candidates’ real concerns out, you’re never going to come to a satisfactory conclusion for anyone.

3. Offer a Solution They Actually Want

No, you may not be able to undo the issue that created an unhappy customer, but you can help create a solution that will alleviate their anger. The first two steps for creating a solution is to admit what went wrong, apologize, listen, and then come up with the solution that best benefits the customer. Whether it’s sending in a replacement temp, finding a new available position, or any other staffing challenge, once you know what the real problem is, you can find the best way to solve it.

Dealing with unhappy customers is never pleasant. I hope this advice can help you better address any upset clients, candidates, or personnel in the future – should you cross paths with them! Improve your customer service process, and your entire company will follow.

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