Problems at work: Do’s and don’ts when dealing with complaints

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First of all – don’t panic. Complaints are part and parcel of running any business. The main difficulty when you work for yourself or run a small business, however, is that you can end up being the entire complaints procedure.

You can be there from the first point of the often fiery contact, the person responsible for both handling and resolving the complaint, and the one who must follow it up and follow it through. Here are some tips that will help you to help your customers and save yourself a little stress along the way.

The (to) do list

The all-important benefit of not panicking – keeping as calm as possible. Listen to what the person is saying and respond with ‘understanding’ noises that show you are interested in what they have to say. Allow them the time to communicate their complaint in full, before considering the appropriate response and action.

Self-discipline here, if you begin to feel annoyed, will pay off as you acknowledge their problem. If you take in everything they have to say, you may even find certain aspects of the complaint not only reasonable but also agreeable. You will also establish all of the facts from start to finish and hopefully be able to pinpoint the most salient details of the issue.

By acknowledging the complaint in full, you will now be able to offer a solution. Even if you have found the complaint entirely unfounded, you will at least know every detail and can explain this carefully, in turn, to the customer.

They will often appear confident and knowledgeable about their rights. However, if you know you’ve fulfilled the job properly, as agreed and safely, your rights must also be considered.

The definite don’ts

Further to the above, if you try to anticipate the complaint as it is being relayed to you, repeatedly interrupting the customer and explaining small details, you will appear as overly defensive and more culpable. Don’t use closed answers such as: “I cannot accept that,” or, “it is not policy to do that,” or lose your temper in any way.

Excuses are also not acceptable. If the customer does highlight something that has warranted a complaint, denying its authority or attempting to divert attention from it will rarely result in a positive outcome. There’s a saying that: “customers accept mistakes, not bad service,” so never risk a response that will only serve to infuriate them, and risk the problem escalating further.

You also don’t need to be afraid of walking away from a situation, if you’re sure there’s nothing you can do to resolve it. If you know you’ve delivered the job required at the cost agreed and that the complaint is completely unfounded, you will now have more important things to do than listen to an unreasonable complaint.

Quality builders insurance will ensure that any further action you face, regardless of whether a complaint is warranted, will be met by the required support. Knowing that you are covered for such eventualities will make it much easier for you to avoid panicking the next time there’s a misunderstanding or unfortunate problem with your work.

Tradesman Saver provides insurance for tradesmen covering a wide variety of professions. For further information, please see our Tradesman Insurance or Who We Cover pages.

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