From risk to opportunity – build rapport through effective client complaint dealings

In the real estate world client interactions occur on a daily basis - from meetings with vendors who want to maximise the selling potential of their properties to buyers who want the best value purchase for their buck. As in any industry with multiple stakeholders, there is the ongoing potential for client dissatisfaction to arise, which means that real estate practitioners have to be adept at responding to complaints.

Addressing client complaints is an integral aspect of developing client loyalty and retention as well as maintaining a competitive advantage within a market. A  2009 study by the US management consulting firm Peppers & Rogers Group entitled ‘Customer Experience Maturity Monitor’ revealed that 81 per cent of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence outperformed their competition – a statistic that indicates how important complaint resolution can be in propelling business success.

Client complaints, despite sometimes being unpleasant, often provide valuable opportunities to get direct client feedback and to ascertain business areas that need improvement.

The reality is that one complaining client probably represents another client who has experienced the same problem, but did not complain. However, in truth, the client that kept quiet is likely the one who went off and told somebody else, complained about you on Facebook or took their business elsewhere.

In addition, effective client complaint resolutions have the potential to turn dissatisfied clients into active promoters of your business, which can be invaluable, particularly in the real estate industry where word-of-mouth holds huge weight.

Here are four simple tips for handling client complaints:

1. Listen

When a client begins a complaint give them your undivided attention and acknowledge their grievance/s in an open, patient and emphatic way.

It is also important to let the client to finish their complaint without interruption. Allowing your client to finish, regardless of their attitude or explanation, conveys respect and concern, which will ultimately put you in a better position to diffuse their anger and identify a solution.

2. Apologise and appreciate

It is always a good move to apologise for the mistake, incident or inconvenience and thank the customer for their feedback. Remember to always keep in mind that the customer didn’t have to tell you about their issue – they are giving you a chance to recover their service; and for that you should be grateful.

Also, steer clear of confrontation with clients as arguing back very seldom leads to resolutions. Even if a client is clearly incorrect or being unreasonable you should always stay calm, composed and choose your words carefully. The words you employ should evoke positive emotions in the customer. For example, refer to the client’s complaint as “important”, “valid” and “understandable”.

3. Find a solution

Undertake to do something to address the complaint at hand. It is widely known that clients experience additional frustration when referred on to multiple people, so if you are in the position to resolve the issue on-the-spot it is certainly wise to do so.  If the problem cannot be resolved immediately, ensure you tell the client what you plan to do to so they feel that some form of action is going to be taken.

Once you indicate a plan make sure that you follow through on your word and deliver results because if you fail to do so there is a very real possibility that you might lose their business altogether.

4. Follow-up

Contact the client to confirm that their complaint has been resolved satisfactorily. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by a phone call, in which you can reiterate your appreciation for their business, their complaint and the resultant opportunity to improve your business.

Posted by George Tarbey on 29/05/2012 at 10:31 AM | Categories:

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