You’re a licensed professional. You care about serving others. And, you want to see your clients happy and for them to tell the world about it.
But, even despite your best efforts, a misunderstanding or an issue with a carrier could quickly sour the relationship. Some of those clients will turn to any and every outlet they can to let others know exactly what they think of their experience.
How will you respond when this happens?
Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Acknowledge the feedback
It’s tempting to dismiss a negative comment. However, ignoring the feedback will make it look as though you’re unresponsive.
Instead, tell the customer (and everyone else watching) that you’ve seen the concern and are dedicated to addressing it. Here’s what that could look like: “Thank you for sharing your feedback. We take our clients’ experiences seriously. Please call us at ________ so we can make it right.”
This message does three things: showcases your responsiveness, highlights your commitment to the customer experience, and puts the ball in their court to continue the dialogue.
Some of you may change the last sentence of the message to read “We’ve sent you a direct message so we can make it right.” Sending that message may work just as well, but a word of caution: A customer who is already dissatisfied may not appreciate you popping up in their inbox – and that could prompt further negative action from them. Putting the onus on the customer lets them reach out if and when they are ready to re-engage with you.
Also note that this sample reply isn’t argumentative. Nobody wins in a keyboard battle – and in this case, you have a lot more to lose than your client. Don’t engage if it escalates to an argument.
You might also notice “sorry” or “apologize” don’t appear in the response. While we recommend that you do apologize for any errors on your end, a bad review often originates from something outside of your immediate control. So, only use apology words when you know you’re at fault.
Have the hard conversation
You’ve invited the jilted client to get in touch with you. What happens next?
In truth, it’s not likely that many will reach out. However, when they do, you have a unique opportunity to hear their feedback, and potentially win them back.
One tried-and-true approach to conflict resolution is to ACT – acknowledge, connect, and turn around. The good thing is, you’ve already on the road to the first step – acknowledging the concern.
Summarize what you’ve heard
When the client calls or writes you direct, they’ll likely recap their issue. If not, you’ll still have the negative review to work with. To complete the acknowledgement step, try your best to summarize what they are communicating to you. Doing so validates the customer’s practical concern and demonstrates you understand what they’re facing.
Build an emotional connection
When we connect, we’re also validating the emotional component of the clients’ perceived problem. This step is just as, if not more important, than the previous one. Doing this well communicates that you’re interested in more than just damage control – you’re invested in finding a solution. A simple, yet earnest-sounding statement acknowledging the emotion is enough. “I can see how that would be frustrating”, is a few words that could mean a lot in the moment.
Turn it around
Ask the customer what they see as a possible solution. For a variety of reasons (probably underwriting rules, carrier policies, or something else outside your control), you may not be able to deliver on what they want. But, asking the question gets them talking – and gives you another opportunity to educate the client about the topic at hand. “What were you expecting to spend” or “What would’ve been your ideal outcome”, are good ones.
Questions like these show that you’re entering the conversation on their side and would like to help them solve the problem. Even when you can’t get to their desired outcome, you’ve secured another opportunity to educate them and demonstrate your commitment to customer service excellence.
Prepare your people
If there are others in your office that work with the affected client, you’ll want to keep them in the loop about the original complaint and any follow-up conversations or resolutions that might have occurred. Even if your partners can’t do anything to address the concern, maintaining open lines of communication helps present a united front.
Negative reviews will happen. You can’t change that. What you are in control of is how you decide to interact and respond. Using these frameworks will help mitigate any potential damage to your reputation while also opening a path to win back the business, and impress new potential customers.