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We live in an Information Age - I offer you the Information "About Anger"
Rest is "Up To You"

DEALING WITH
COMPLAINING CLIENTS

 Can Make Your Blood Boil
Donít Let Them Get To You

By
 Dr. Madan L. Kharť
 Veterinarian
 (First Published In 2004)

 

COMPLAINING CLIENTS              

If a clientís expectations are not met, they may choose to ignore it, complain about it, retaliate by telling others (or seek legal action!), or more likely to withdraw from the relationship.  Clients often donít complain because they think it will do no good or they are not sure how to voice the complaint.  The cause of most stressful situations is poor communication!

HOW TO MASTER RECOVERY SKILLS

Dissatisfied clients have several desires:

1.  To be listened to and taken seriously
2.  To have you understand why they are upset
3.  To receive compensation
4.  To have the problem handled quickly
5.  Future inconvenience avoided
6.  To be treated with respect
7.  Assurance it will not happen again
 


A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT COMPLAINTS AND COMPLAINERS

1.  Donít take it personally
2.  If you have tried your best to satisfy, thatís all you can do
3.  Donít rehash the experienceÖwhatís done is done
4.  Use every client contact as an opportunity to improve your professionalism
5.  Clients want to remain your client
6.  Clients are giving you another opportunity to make it right
7.  Most clients want to be fair, if they feel they are being treated fairly

STRATEGIES FOR CONTROLLING ANGER INCLUDE

1.  Choose not to return aggression for aggression.
2.  Acknowledge feelings and emotions.
3.  Ignore the excessive, erroneous, sarcasm, and exaggerations.  Choose what you respond to.
4.  Donít pass the buck.

 PROTOCOL FOR HANDLING COMPLAINTS

1.  Isolate the client.
2.  Give the client your undivided attention.  Document.
3.  Donít assume anything.
4.  Stay calm.
5.  Acknowledge the clientís anger.
6.  Listen actively.
7.  Involve the client in finding a solution.  Suggest alternatives.
8.  Never leave the problem unresolved.
9.  Thank the client for bringing the problem to your attention.
10. Do something extra.
11. Follow-up.

CLIENT COMPLAINTS: Blame it on someone/something not associated with your clinic.  Some examples would be:

1.  Manufacturer
2.  Insurance
3.  Government
4.  Licensing Board
5.  Computer
6.  Attorneys
7.  Accountants/Auditors

COMPLAINTS:  What not to do

DONíT: Be defensive, take it personally, deny it, make excuses, judge, blame, bring up the past, blame it on ďcompany policy.Ē

COMPLAINTS:  What to do

DO: Choose your words carefully avoiding negativism, only say what you can do, acknowledge any truth to the complaint, avoid actions that worsen the situation, provide a timeframe for action, offer alternatives, find someone else to solve the problem if you canít.

ABUSIVE LANGUAGE SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED. 

Remind yourself that the anger is directed at the system, not you personally.  Since we cannot control the other personís thoughts, words, or behavior; we must control our own.  Let the client know you will handle the problem in a mature manner:  ďIt is impossible to continue the conversation as long as you use abusive language, what would you like for me to do?Ē

There is magic in listening and agreeing.  Clients tend to calm down if they feel you are looking out for their best interest.  They also tend to be less vulgar when they see you documenting on paper.

CHRONIC COMPLAINERS. 

This group of people always look for someone else to blame, never admit fault or take responsibility, have strong ideas of what others should do, and complain at length.  Some strategies include listening actively, establishing the facts, resisting the temptation to apologize, force the complainer to pose solutions, and determine the clientís value to the practice.  Firing undesirable clients can sometimes result in respectful, good clients.  Be firm and set conduct guidelines of courteous handling of future problems.  If the client threatens legal action, stop trying to resolve the problem.  Implied promises make a reasonable settlement difficult.  Instruct the client to speak with your attorney.

It is important to remember that complaints are good for the practice in that the client is allowing us the opportunity to make it right.  It also allows us to know problems that can also affect other clients, even though they may not totally defect from the practice.  It is comforting to know that most client complaints have positive resolutions that can result in clients that are more bonded to the practice than even before the complaint was made known.

 
 
 

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