Dissatisfied customers are an unavoidable part of doing business.

It’s been a rough 12 months, and you’ve probably dealt with more than your fair share of upset staffing clients. And even in the best of times, you simply cannot please 100% of your customers 100% of the time.

But with every problem comes an opportunity, right?

In fact, by adopting the right attitude and building the right processes, you can create opportunities to strengthen your business relationships and improve loyalty. Over the years, I’ve written extensively about the best ways to turn service problems into opportunities to WOW clients. Below, I share my favorite takeaways from decades of service experience:

Tip 1: Defuse the situation.

If a client comes to you upset, let them vent – simply allowing someone to express their frustration can effectively deescalate a tense situation. Be patient, try not to interrupt, and avoid making snap judgments until you have complete information.

Once they’ve had a chance to speak, ask follow-up questions to ensure you understand exactly what happened. As they continue to “let off steam,” pay attention to their emotions to help identify the real cause of their concern.

Tip 2: Take responsibility.

Sincerely apologize and take ownership of the error or the negative impact it caused. Make sure the client knows that you are the person who will fix their problem. While it’s tempting to point fingers (especially when blame is shared), you’ll set the stage for service recovery more quickly by owning the problem and committing to making things right.

Tip 3: Be transparent.

When something goes wrong for a client, sharing information is an essential part of the resolution process. If you know what caused the issue, share insights with your customer. And if you need to do a little investigating to identify what happened, do the extra work. Candor and transparency help restore trust – and may even help prevent the same problem from occurring again, especially if your client was a contributing factor.

Tip 4: Focus on solutions.

Start with a simple, high-level overview of what you plan to do – and what the outcome will be. Then, walk the client through the steps involved in your proposed solution. Providing this level of detail reassures a frustrated client that:

  • you know what you’re doing;
  • you’ve thought through the solution;
  • you plan to actually do what you say.

Tip 5: Follow up.

After you’ve resolved the problem, reach back out to your client to debrief. Explain:

  • what you’ve learned about your own company and its processes;
  • the improvements you’ve made;
  • what all parties involved can take away from the experience.

Turn staffing problems into opportunities.

Effectively resolving service issues can be a source of competitive advantage for your firm. By creating great processes, training your staff and empowering them to deliver amazing service – even when things go wrong – you’ll set your agency head and shoulders above the competition.

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