No matter what you do, and no matter how great the care you provide is, you will inevitably have unhappy clients. And with 85% of home care recipients reporting they chose their provider based on the company’s reputation or someone’s recommendation, providing outstanding service to upset and sometimes hostile clients is critical to the growth of your business. And central to this is the age-old saying, “The customer is always right.”
I know this goes against everything you’ve probably been told over the years, but the customer is not always right. Clients do and will accuse you of things that didn’t happen. They will blame you for not communicating something, when you actually did communicate it and they just didn’t listen. They may even continue insisting on your guilt after realizing their own, simply because of pride. Much of this is human nature, only further perpetuated by the idea that “the customer is always right.”
The problem with adopting “The customer is always right” as your motto, is it creates rifts between your employees and your clients. Nobody likes being wrong. It’s frustrating for your employees to be told a client is right, when they know very well that’s not true. They may grit their teeth through handling the issue, but once the experience is over they’ll go looking for someone to validate their feelings of frustration. They’ll talk to other employees about the experience. They’ll give names, and those names will be passed around the office. Once a client is labeled as “trouble”, it’s then impossible for them to receive great service. The disdain your employees feel for these clients will be apparent in their voices and interactions, despite their best efforts to control it.
If your employees are to provide your clients with outstanding service, they need to like your clients. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
Try a New Mantra: “It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Right.”
Or who’s wrong, for that matter. Instead, train your employees to focus on the problem, and solve it. If a client calls you upset because they’re waiting for their caregiver to take them to the store, it doesn’t matter that the client never requested a caregiver for that day. Contrary to what appears obvious, the problem is not that the client never requested a caregiver. The problem is that the client is waiting for someone to take them to the store. Focusing on who is right and who is wrong only leads to one side blaming the other. Focusing on the problem leads to a solution.
Many of your clients have suffered great losses. They’ve lost their sight, hearing, motor skills, memories, friends, and spouses. Even if your client is a family member of the one needing care, they’re still struggling with the thought of losing their loved one. Your clients have plenty to be upset about, and at times you may bear the brunt of that. Make sure your employees know as much about your clients as is appropriate, and encourage them to cut your clients some slack.
Be Proactive With Your Clients
By the time most clients complain, they’ve typically been upset for awhile. Some will never bring up their concerns, but will cancel their services with you and sully your name to their friends and family. Try interviewing a sample of your clients each month to see how they feel about your caregivers and the services you’re providing. If you don’t have the time to call and talk with your clients each month, we can do it for you.
In short, your clients don’t want to be patronized; they want you to care. Isn’t that why they hired you in the first place? Train and encourage your employees to care less about who is right, and more about what they can do to solve your clients’ problems. Not only will this bring in more referrals from your clients, but you’ll be surprised at the impact this will have on the attitudes of your employees.