"Never underestimate the power of the irate customer."
-Joel E. Ross
All leaders will be called upon to deal with irate people at some point. Sometimes an organization screws up, and the leader must face mad customers. You might also have to deal with upset co-workers or even your infuriated spouse! I have found a good approach to dealing with an angry person, especially a customer, is the LAST Chance model, which has four components: Listen, Apologize, Solve and Thank.
1) Listen - Listen to the irate person and use the active listening technique discussed in the last blog. Let them vent without interruption, and paraphrase back to them the issue and how it made them feel.
2) Apologize – A sincere apology defuses anger. This is easy if you or your organization made a mistake, but is more difficult if the person caused the problem or the situation is beyond your control. However, you can always apologize for the way the person is feeling ("I apologize that you are upset that the event was rained out.")
3) Solve - You should ask the person for their solution: "How do think we should resolve this issue?" or "What do you want me to do about the situation?" Often the proposed solution is reasonable and easy.
4) Thank – The most important element of the LAST Chance model is to thank the person. For ten dissatisfied customers, only one or two will typically complain. The others will simply never return and tell their friends about the poor experience. “Thank you for letting me know about this situation. Now, we can not only fix it for you, but for anyone else who may have this issue in the future. You’ve helped people you don’t even know!” With this affirmation, the person will tell friends, “Not only did they solve my problem, they thanked me for complaining. What an amazing company!”
Surpassing leaders use the LAST Chance technique to handle difficult situations. Listen, Apologize, Solve, and Thank can turn harsh critics into raving fans.
• Apply the Last Chance model to your next difficult encounter—Listen, Apologize, Solve and Thank.
Excerpted from Chapter 43, Harsh Critics, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence, thesurpassinglife.com.