As much as we try to avoid it as business owners complaints are something that will happen occasionally. Even the best run organization will face a complaint from a customer or an employee at some time. The key is to handle it with grace and composure and be able to come out the other side with some insight on your business processes. Consider these tips the next time you have to deal with a complaint.

  1. Listen. Human beings have a habit of listening only long enough to form a response. Don’t do this. Really listen to what it is the individual has to say. Keep an open mind about the situation and don’t come to any initial conclusions. The best thing you can do at this point is hear them out and allow yourself to fully understand why they are upset.
  2. Repeat. Now that you’ve listened to what they have to say they need to know really heard them. So many times people become more upset because they don’t believe they are being heard. By taking a few moments to repeat back what they have told you will disarm them just enough to defuse the situation and let them know you really did comprehend their problem.
  3. Empathize. Now is the time to let them know you will do something about what happened. At this point, don’t place any specific blame. Say something like, “I understand what you’re saying. I would be upset as well if this happened to me. Let me check on the situation, find out what I can do, and get back to you.” This will let them know that you acknowledge their feelings and you will find a solution but it also gives you time to do the proper research.
  4. Follow Up. Don’t take much time after the initial complaint to find out what happened and what can be done to solve the problem. Follow up with them as soon as you can so they know you take the situation as seriously as they do. Whether this is a complaint from a customer or an employee, you want to show them that they are valuable to your business. Let them know how you will correct the problem and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. You may even wish to give this person a gift or token to show them that you appreciate them bringing the issue to your attention and help you solve the problem.

Good management techniques can always be sharpened and perfected. Contact Harvard Resource Solutions to learn about ways you can improve your business.

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