Managing relationships with clients can, at times, be difficult. When a complaint arises, it may be difficult to see the wood through the trees and become overwhelming when dealing with the situation.
Given the additional pressure that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed practices under, we look at how we can learn from complaints during the pandemic and how to create a better practice – client relationship for the future.
With lockdown, closures and understaffed practices the VCMS witnessed a rise in complaints during the pandemic as the country struggled to adapt to the new normal. During this period, complaints themselves became harder to deal with as early intervention became almost impossible. Escalation of complaints also grew at an above average rate as economic pressures, resilience to the crises and general frustrations became increasingly apparent.
With both practices and clients struggling to adapt, the pandemic highlighted the need for excellence within their relationship placing stress on all. A ‘baptism of fire’ of sorts, the crisis underlined the need for professionals to be able to manage clients to the very best of their abilities more than ever.
What can we learn from this? Whenever hardship and difficulties in our professional or personal lives are presented, they offer a chance to learn, grow and develop.
De-escalation is key to being able to manage high-pressured situations and complaints and is the first step in moving towards understanding. Firstly, don’t jump in to fix it by acknowledging the emotion and follow the process. With the client, ensure that you listen to understand to be able to best respond, keep to timelines with the client to manage their expectations and use the situation as a chance to focus on scope for learnings.
Taking ownership of the issue is vital in building and restoring confidence with the affected party and being honest and open through clear communication whilst showing a commitment to resolve the issues by outlining the next steps helps to de-escalate the situation and work towards a resolution.
The path to resolution and resolving a complaint is not just about solving the issue. It goes deeper than that. It helps with both personal and professional growth and to build relationships with clients.
As author Stephen Covey says: ‘when you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.’
Viewing a complaint as a positive more than a negative requires a change in our thinking, our way of conducting our business and trying something new.
Pushing ourselves personally and professionally can bring about positive changes and fulfilment and through our attitude to complaints this can be achieved.
Should you require any assistance or advice when handling a complaint or wish to discuss an issue with our team, please call us on 0345 040 5834 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.