An important client calls and complains about your service. You sense you are about to lose them.

Your gut feeling is probably right. Once a client complains, everything you’ve ever done wrong is on their mind, and you’re at a disadvantage in resolving the latest complaint to their satisfaction. What should you do?

Listen and learn

Contact the dissatisfied client promptly and hear them out. Listen and acknowledge their concern. Listening is powerful. Let the dissatisfied client speak. How can you respond to their complaint intelligently if you don’t fully understand the reason for their dissatisfaction?

Once a customer has had their say, in most cases they will be receptive to your response. Most customers (the people who you want as customers anyway) are reasonable and realize everyone sometimes makes a mistake.

In cases where you can’t offer an immediate response to their complaint, ask for the client’s patience and tell them you will look into the issue more fully and get back to them very soon.

Read more: So a Customer is Upset, What to do Next?

A client satisfaction culture

Obviously, maintaining positive client relationships involves much more than responding to client complaints, whether you do it intelligently or not. If the number of service complaints you are getting are starting to trouble you, you have deep issues in your company that need addressing, likely a cultural issue. No company can be profitable or grow with poor client satisfaction levels.

You need to create client satisfaction culture and insist that all employees buy into the culture. In addition to measuring employee performance by tracking jobs completed and the percentage of assigned work done, are you also regularly assessing the quality of the services they’re providing? Do you take into account the overall impression your employees are leaving with your customers? Remember, clients see your crews, operators and drivers more than they see you. The impression your employees present in the field day to day is critical to clients’ satisfaction levels.

Coach every employee to understand clients are your business lifeline (and important to their job security). Institute policies to check up on the quality of work they are doing. Also, present them in a professional light to your clients by providing them with uniforms and making sure they follow rules like no smoking or idling on jobs.

Track client satisfaction levels

Successful companies benchmark and track client satisfaction levels. Many companies that focus on customer satisfaction survey their clients and ask them to rate the level of their services. This is one area of the business that you can improve without throwing money at it. What customers tell you is valuable and can head off complaints and lost business.

Think like your customers

Finally, think like your customers. If you see a property under your care starting to look less than desirable, improve it before your customer complains about it.

If you don’t address the issue early, it will cost you — perhaps it could cost you even more than that single customer. Think about adjacent properties and the loss of potential referrals.

You will never go wrong by applying The Golden Rule: treat others like you’d like to be treated. This applies to service providers, too.

Great businesses are built with satisfied clients and long-term relationships. You want to run a great company, right?

Takeaway Tips

  • Good relationships create better business.
  • Don’t delay responding to complaints.
  • Involve all employees in client satisfaction.
  • Measure client satisfaction levels.
  • Thinking like a customer is a best business practice.