Episode 389: Words that Win- Language Skills to Defuse Customer Complaints

Language Skills to Defuse Customer Complaints From Angry Dog Walking Clients
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Ever wondered if a customer complaint could actually be the key to unlocking untapped potential in your pet business? The truth is that behind every complaint lies a valuable opportunity waiting to be discovered. This week, as we explore strategies to not only manage complaints but to leverage them as stepping stones toward service excellence.

We'll explore real-life examples and practical strategies to handle complaints effectively, but also leverage them as catalysts for growth. From turning dissatisfied clients into loyal advocates to refining your service offerings based on customer feedback, you'll gain insights that can revolutionize the way you approach customer relations.

Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or a newcomer to the pet industry, understanding how to navigate and capitalize on customer complaints is essential for building a resilient and successful business.

If you've ever felt at a loss for words when dealing with an upset customer, or if timely responses have been your Achilles' heel, this is the episode for you.

Topics & Key Points

  • Effective communication strategies for handling customer complaints
  • Effective communication in complaint management.
  • Customer complaint resolution strategies
  • Handling customer complaints effectively


  • [3:48] Effective communication in complaint management
  • [9:20]Customer complaint resolution strategies
  • [13:33] Handling customer complaints effectively

Notable Quotes

[4:19] “So the moment that complaint is voiced the clock starts ticking your response time and more importantly, the quality of that response sets the stage for the entire interaction.”

[9:00] “It’s not just about responding, but doing so in a way that shows that you care, you understand, and you’re ready to make things right.”

[16:04] “I want you to think about like when the policies are clear, it’s easy for your team to manage the complaints consistently and effectively ensure that the policies are easily accessible for your clients to ideally post on your website to include your service agreement.”

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Welcome to another episode of Bella in Your Business. My name is Bella Vasta. And we’re gonna continue on the bad customer complaint train today. First, I love how many of you guys went out and did get the joy of failure, talks about it in the last episode by Julia McCoy, and Chris Evans, it is a really good quick read, and it will impact your soul. I can’t stress it enough. If you can’t be in the room, technically, with amazing people, that is the next best thing. In the last episode, we talked about, you know how customer complaints can shake us to the core, it can unearth a lot of trauma, it could unearth a lot of reactions that we’re not quite sure of. It could paralyze us, it could freeze us it could do all of these things, and kind of how to overcome them. And I think that it’s you know, you have to think about the psychology of it first before we just get into the robotic how tos, which we’re going to kind of move into a little bit today. Today, we’re going to talk about the effective communication strategies how to respond, how to actively listen, and how your language matters a lot. And we’re going to talk about how to, you know, kind of move through that. And I’m going to give you different steps and definitely, like practical steps to resolve the complaint where you definitely can make a good SOP and then you know, adapt it to however you want today. But first first, before we get into that I do want to do a big shout out to JazzHr, who helps support our industry in ways that I’ve never seen a company do so consistently and for so long. So take these words from our sponsor.
Already I’m we’re back. And today I wanted to also give you another book recommendation. This is a book that I have read that a lot of my clients have read that we’ve had the author, teach, not once but twice in the mastermind, there’s actually the teaching the recordings are in there right now, if you’re in the mastermind, if you’re not, you want to check it out, go ahead and sign up, it’s only month to month. And it’s jumped consulting dotnet forward slash mastermind, but it’s called Never lose a customer again, turn any sales into a lifelong loyalty in 100 days. It’s by the most amazing, charismatic, exciting, interesting person, Joey Coleman. And it’s a really awesome book, how you can kind of build out your own procedures. And in towards the end of the series that we’re doing on customer complaints turned into a series that was going to be just an episode. But I think we’re going to actually be doing a third episode after this one. You might want to grab that. And that’s also on Audible, in Kindle and hardcover. And it’s been very amazing for a lot of people, it’s it’s really helped build out this kind of customer loyalty program in terms of how to reach out and touch them and make sure that, you know, they feel like really excited to be part of your company beyond the whole Oh, thank you for your booking. You’re a new client, now you’re part of the family.

All right, I’m always looking to inspire and motivate you guys towards success, because I know that entrepreneurship can be pretty, pretty lonely. Okay, so let’s get into today’s episode, let’s talk about effective communication strategies. Now, there were that were equipped with the understanding of why complaints can actually be big gateways to improvement. Let’s shift our focus to how we can actually master communication in these sensitive situations. So the first response is, is key. It’s paramount, like, think about the last time that you had to, you know, make a complaint to accompany you, aren’t you like kind of lay it on the floor on the feet, whether it’s you know, online, whether it’s an email, whether it’s a phone call, whatever it might be you muster up all this time and energy to actually even tell them that something is wrong, because most people won’t, right? And you’re anticipating their response, and their response is everything. So the moment that complaint is voiced the clock starts ticking your response time and more importantly, the quality of that response sets the stage for the entire interaction. It’s crucial to acknowledge the complaint quickly. And not just to show that your prompt but you can demonstrate care and concern. And immediate acknowledgement can be something as simple as I understand you’re upset. And that’s not the experience we want you to have. Here timing is everything. A quick response shows that you’re attentive and committed to resolving issues swiftly. But remember, a fast response that lacks empathy can do more harm than good. It’s about finding that balance, being quick, but also being meaningful in your communication. The other thing I want you to think about is listen actively. Now, I always make a joke about this because I’m from Boston, and I’m Italian. And so my listening, especially being in Arizona, which is more like West Coast, I always like giggle about this. Because in my family, it’s like the person that can talk the loudest and talk over people. It’s like, hey, oh, hey, you know, like, and you’re like, hey, yeah, I totally know what you’re saying. Like you’re talking over each other and fast, it means that you’re actively listening, right? But generally speaking, and especially in business, it’s something I always have to watch. I can’t interrupt people, I try not to interrupt people. No matter how excited I am, I need to let people finish their thoughts. So when you’re listening, genuine, active listening, when a client comes to you with a complaint, they’re often frustrated, maybe upset, and they want to feel heard. So it’s your opportunity to listen, which is with two ears and speak with one mouth, right? But to understand active listening involves giving your full attention nodding, maintaining eye contact, if you’re in person, not interrupting.

Follow their complaint with a summary of what they said. So show them that you literally hear what they’re saying, you’re not just waiting to say what you want to say. So okay, let me make sure I’ve got this right, and then repeating back their key points, it’ll show that you’re engaged, and clarify any potential misunderstandings immediately. And this method doesn’t just apply to face to face it equally, it’s equally effective on calls or email. And it’s about making the customer feel valued and respected. Through your attention to detail. Now, I’ve seen this go so wrong in those call centers, right? They just start regurgitating what you’re saying. I’m like, Oh, my God, just stop talking. Right? Because there’s like, an empathetic way to do this. You really do care. Like, okay, let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. So you’re saying that this, this, and this happened? Right? Right. And that’s, that’s a really good way to do it. But when it’s not like, Okay, ma’am, I understand that you’re trying to, you know, do this, and I’m gonna help you and everything that you can possibly do. And, and it’s, it’s not, it’s like, they’re trying to repeat this back to you. But they’re not even asking if they got it clearly. Right. And so it can actually do more harm than justice if you’re not authentic about it. And now, the language also matters too, I’m gonna give you four different types of languages that you can or words, phrases that you can use. Choosing the right words can either escalate or defuse a situation. Words are powerful. And in a complaint management, the right words can turn the tide in your favor. Use phrases that convey empathy and understanding such as I can see why that would be upsetting. Or, you’re absolutely right to bring this to our attention. Or thank you so much for your patience. As we sort this out, I’m definitely going to get back to you. Or, let’s work together to find a solution. Avoid using jargon or over technically terms that might confuse or alienate your client, simplify your language. But keep it professional, like people want to speak to a human right. And emphasize collaborative language. using phrases like let’s fix this together, helps in sharing responsibility rather than shifting blames, it’s about teamwork, even in a complaint scenario.

To sum it up, effective communication is your most powerful tool in complete, incomplete management. It’s not just about responding, but doing so in a way that shows that you care, you understand, and you’re ready to make things right. By mastering the art of timely response, active listening, and careful language choice. You set up yourself and your business for success resolutions and happier customers. This is something that you know, one day you might delegate, so you’re gonna want to create an SOP around this a standard operating procedure, you’re going to want to put those phrases that I just said in there as standard phrases to say to people. So like, Let’s pause for a moment and let these strategies think in. The next part that I want to talk about is practical steps to resolving these complaints. And so I really want I want you to really think about all of this like what we’ve talked about first, I want you to pause and like get rid of all that anxiety. Everything that comes with Oh no, I’m in trouble. Or someone’s not happy and I don’t know what to do with it and it heightens your emotions, then we’re gonna think about how can we listen and hear this person out and make them felt feel heard. Now we’re going to kind of shift into the steps to resolve the complaints. So I’m going to tell you off the gate, there’s, there’s five I’m going to talk about, we’re going to acknowledge the issue, apologize, sincerely, offer a solution, take action, and follow up to ensure that it is, you know, solves to their satisfaction. So let’s talk about acknowledge issue. First and foremost, we got to acknowledge it, right. This doesn’t mean you agree with it. But you recognize that the customers feelings are in concerns are valid, say something like I see where the problem is, or I understand why that’s upset you. I think that’s something that doesn’t happen often enough in this world, especially even this year, you know, as we’re on a political year 2024 Is that people can listen to understand, they don’t have to agree. But you can bite by understanding or attempting to understand where people are coming from, it doesn’t mean that you’ve gone to the dark side, and that you agree with them. Right? You can understand someone and also not agree to things can be true.
And so it’s acknowledging is just about validating their feelings, which it’s crucial for defusing potential frustrations. Step two is apologizing sincerely when it’s appropriate. So if the situation warrants an apology, this step is vital as it shows humility, and it takes ownership where it’s necessary. And apology can go a long way, and is often the fastest method to rebuilding trust, but it has to be authentic, right? And genuine. I am truly sorry, this happened. Or we regret that you’ve had this experience. And we’re here to make it right. Think about how I just said that, as opposed to I’m truly sorry, the way that this happens. We regret you had this experience. And we’re here to make it right. Those of two different feelings, right? There’s a difference between feeling it and being genuine, and then just reciting it to recite it or or say it to say it. The next step is offer a solution and asks what the client would be fair, I think this is all important. If this is this is probably the most important part of this entire episode, you guys. I think oftentimes, a lot of people just throw money at a problem, oh, we’ll refund you without ever asking, What can I do to make this right? Or listening for what the client might even be asking for? They might just tell you off the bat. And so to move forward, you need some sort of resolution? Or better yet, just ask the client? How can we make this right for you? You know, so I’m truly sorry, this happened. This definitely is not the experience we want for you to have, how can I make this right? That right there is again, it’s collaborative, it’s empathetic, it’s opening the, the conversation to see what they actually want. Maybe they want to know that you’re going to change your policy, maybe they want to know they’re gonna get a new sitter, maybe they want. You know, I think that when people ask for money back, they’re kinda like at their last end, they’re like, I just want my money back and be done with you. Right? Oftentimes, they want to know that you actually care and that you’re trying to change things. So don’t be afraid to just be open like that, how can we make this right? And then also not putting the burden completely on them, but having a couple of solutions that you’re okay with ready to go, we could do this, or we could do that. Or if there’s something else that you know, would make you happy, I would love to entertain it, let me know. It empowers the customer and involves them in the resolution process, which can greatly increase their satisfaction and their loyalty. The next part is we’re going to take action swiftly once the solution is agreed upon, act swiftly. Immediate action demonstrates your commitment to resolving the issue and mitigate any inconvenience your client has experienced. It’s not just about saying the right things, it’s about following up with concrete actions. And then once we do those actions, we don’t want to just be done with it. We want to follow up and ensure their satisfaction. So after resolving the issue, follow up to ensure the client is satisfied and how it was handled. A simple follow-up email or phone call can reaffirm to the client that you value their business and satisfaction. This step often seals the deal for continued patronage and positive word of mouth. And I know that’s one thing that people are really scared about it. We talked about it last episode where you often link freeze, because you don’t want that negative review that complaint, that bad mouth, or that word bad word of mouth. Right.

And so now, I think now, as we turn inward, that’s client-facing, it’s really crucial to discuss the role of clear written policies in managing complaints. policies provide a framework for both your team and your clients, setting expectations for what happens when things go wrong. I think another thing too, is if you have office staff, I know some of you do. Let allow them to solve problems up to $100, you know, up to $100 refund before they have to call you, right, we want to empower them to make a decision. That’s just one example. Or one way they could. I want you to think about like when the policies are clear, it’s easy for your team to manage the complaints consistently and effectively ensure that the policies are easily accessible for your clients to ideally post on your website to include your service agreement. By implementing these steps, you not only ensure that you’re resolving the issue, like in a good way, but you also continuously improve the way your business operates. And so handling complaints effectively isn’t just about dealing with the negatives, but also opening up a collaborative situation to solve it together, and ultimately, maybe create a client for life. And so next week, we’re going to talk about how we can actually take those complaints and turn them into opportunities, learning from the feedback using them as training in your company, how to build stronger relationships with the customers.

And so I’m excited to kind of continue on this train. But you know, this is all pretty high level. And we’re dealing with all the nitty gritty inside the mastermind right now. We had a really great round up last week. It’s where we basically get together and we just all talk and we solve problems. And the things that people come up with in there are so unique and so interesting. It’s not just about solving problems, it’s also about celebrating, it’s about supporting one another. It’s about getting those creative juices flowing in a way that you know, it’s just we kind of get mundane, pushed down, overwhelmed, buried underneath our business. And I just love what happens in the mastermind Not to mention, we have five months worth of customer service, trainings, postings, examples, and inspiration. And I say five months because, you know, we’ve been going on since 2018. And what we do is we organize everything in the mastermind into what we call guides. And we also have this really cool spreadsheet that’s really long. And it is every single time Nicky Romero has come in, which is probably gosh, did you doo doo doo doo doo, at least 70 times like 70 hours worth of HR calls that you don’t have to sift through, you can go through the, the spreadsheet and you can go to you know, firing an employee and you can see all the questions we’ve asked around firing employee, a link to the video and the timestamp so you can go straight to it. So it’s all by like, by topics and there’s nowhere else in the industry you can get that. Nowhere else can you get HR support from an actual HR person who knows inside and out our industry and who works with dog walking and pet signing companies. So really proud of the mastermind. If you have been lurking and listening and want to join as a jumper, it’s a month-to-month contract. That’s it. It’s just month to month it’s only $177 And if you use Bella25 By the end of this month, you can get $25 off a month. So that makes it 150 I’m gonna do the math wrong. Oh my gosh, I can’t even do that. $157 are 152 I don’t know I’m flustered right now, and I’m not good at math. Anyways, you guys, this has been another episode of Bella in your business. If you want a positive supportive community around you join us jumpconsulting.net/mastermind. And also don’t forget to check out JazzHr as they are. They have given us the deepest discount they’ve ever given anyone because they’ve also been working with us since 2018. And you only get it if you’re part of the jumper crew. So just go to jazz consult. I’m sorry, jump consulting.net/jazzhr. Remember when life gets down, always keep jumping. And I’ll see you again next week. Bye now. We’ll almost love failure more than we love success. Because it takes a lot of failure to Get to success, right? So go grab the book, The Joy of failure by Julian McCoy and Chris Evans. I will see you again next week as we continue on talking about how to deal with negative customer complaints. And I want to encourage you that when life gets down, always keep jumping by now

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