HOW TO RESPOND TO A FRUSTRATED CLIENT December 27, 2022 | Business Tips , Inspection Tips | client satisfaction , inspection industry , small business , Facebook , Google My Business By Zach Vesper, NPI, Inc.'s Senior SEO and Marketing Strategist Everyone has been there. Something did not go as planned, and the irritation in your client’s voice is obvious. Maybe you even made an honest mistake at some point in the process. Obviously, nobody is perfect. At some point in your career, you’ll miss a callout, or you’ll simply have to work with someone who behaves unreasonably. Conflict is a natural part of running a business. Though there are plenty of strategies that you could employ to avoid it in the first place, sometimes friction is unavoidable. You’ve found yourself there, and the question is, what do you do now? According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, the average disgruntled client shares their experience with 9 to 15 other people, and 13% of dissatisfied people tell more than 20. Addressing frustration is one of the most important things a small business owner needs to learn. Let’s review a few go-to tips to de-escalate frustrated clients, whether in-person or online. Remember To Keep Calm Whenever you encounter a client whose experience did not line up with their expectations, it is important to stay calm. Tensions can easily rise over the phone or in person, and rash reactions will always lead to regret. Do not match an angry comment with one of your own. Your professionalism and calm demeanor will be contagious, leading to a much easier resolution process. This rule applies to every sort of encounter, whether in person, while replying to emails, or during a response to a negative review. A good strategy that you can employ while responding in writing is to make sure you sign your name at the end. If doing so makes you want to pause, it might be time to go back and make some edits. Take ownership for your statements and react with professionalism as a standard. You will thank yourself later. Listen and Take Notes Since you are able to keep your own emotions in check, listening to your client’s concerns will be much easier. While some clients may come to the table behaving in a way that may seem irrational, realize the value that their complaint can provide for your business. According to a report released by customer service experts at Super Office , only 1 in 26 unhappy clients will voice their dissatisfaction. While no one wants their clients to be frustrated, it can provide great information about how you conduct your business. Maybe there is a process that you have been using that could be improved. Or, maybe you have a way of speaking that is easily misunderstood. This feedback can be an opportunity to make your product better or improve the way you conduct your business. Be active and purposeful as you listen to your client’s concerns. Note down each aspect of their frustration, so that you can address them item by item. This is, admittedly, much easier to accomplish when replying to a review or responding to an email. However, do your best to take each concern seriously and address them on their own merits. And as a last note, remember to thank your client for the feedback! When applied correctly, it can end up improving your business, and it builds trust with your frustrated client. Show Empathy For Their Situation Some of these actions are easier said than done, but remember not to take any anger personally. Their frustration is attached to the situation, and sometimes it stems from circumstances totally outside of your service. Be quick to give your client the benefit of the doubt, and do your best to see things from their perspective. Again, this can be difficult, especially when dealing with clients who seem irrational. However, sincerity can go a long way toward repairing a messy situation. One helpful tip that you can keep in mind is to remember that you are an expert in the industry and, usually, you will be working with someone with very little experience regarding the home inspection Standards of Practice. Be patient, and explain things more than once when necessary, allowing for a generous interpretation for your client’s feelings. Address The Issue Once you have fielded the complaint with tact, you will be ready to address the issue. This is where you can really bring a strong response home and de-escalate the situation. Sometimes frustrations can come from simple misunderstandings or miscommunications, and resolution can simply come from reaching out. In your response, be sure to speak clearly. Use language that is easy to understand for beginners (while avoiding condescension), and rely on the facts and data that you have on hand. Clear, tangible evidence should do the work for you in bringing understanding for the parties involved. While it is important to sympathize with your client’s frustrations, be careful not to admit fault with liability in mind. Reserve apologies for when you can rectify the situation (if necessary). If possible, exceed expectations when addressing a concern. Going above and beyond to mend a relationship that has been hurt can transform a negative review potentially into a powerful advocate for your services. Still, when having a conversation on a public forum, your goal should be to take things offline as quickly as possible. Hashing out a disagreement with random spectators present can look as bad online as it does in public. When In Doubt, Seek Help! While you can utilize all of these tips on your own, feel free to reach out from the beginning! Your marketing team is happy to help out with any difficult discussions that you might be anticipating. With your NPI franchise, you gain a team that can advocate on your behalf - and we have plenty of experience crafting copy to address all sorts of scenarios. Contact Zach at Zach.Vesper@npiweb.com for expert advice on your tone and language, or to just have another pair of eyes on your responses. If you are interested in becoming a small business owner, check out our free information packet for more details on franchising with National Property Inspections! About the Author Zach Vesper, Senior SEO and Marketing Strategist Zach brings more than six years of SEO experience to the table, making him your go-to web optimization specialist--he knows how to help your website reach the first page! He's always more than happy to answer your questions about all things Google. Zach is a film buff, an old-fashioned connoisseur and an avid reader of science fiction. When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his wife, Stepha.