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We eat dinner in a particular chain restaurant with some frequency. It’s one of those places where the manager comes around and asks whether everything is good. Personally, I find those visits annoying, but it’s clearly on the checklist, and we always get a manager visit. Whatevsies.
On this particular night, things aren’t going well. The pasta isn’t right, and the salmon (ordered by my daughter) was way different from what she usually gets at this place. Something bad was happening in the kitchen. We sent the salmon back.
As we left, I realized that we hadn’t had a visit from the manager. The manager never perkily appeared at our table to interrupt us and ask us about our meal.
My guess is the manager didn’t want to hear the bad news, so he didn’t ask. That’s what I think most lawyers do when it comes to asking clients how it’s going. They don’t want to risk getting bad news, so they just don’t ask.
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
Not asking, and therefore not hearing the bad news, doesn’t mean things went well. Bad news is there regardless of whether you ask for it. And it only gets worse.
We all know that unhappy clients/customers tell the world what they think. They’re far more likely than happy clients to give others their opinion of your service. They spread the word, and now, they can spread it even further with Yelp, Google Places, and all the other review sites available. They can tell everyone how bad you are.
Do you really think that not asking makes the problem go away?
Get your head out of the sand!
How to Handle Unhappy Clients
Recognize that the only way to solve the problem of unhappy clients is to find out who’s unhappy. Don’t believe for a moment that the unhappy clients will bring their problems to you. Sure, some will, but most will not. They suffer in silence. They only break their silence when their case is over. Then they tell the world what they think of you.
You need to know there’s a problem while you still have a chance to fix it. You need to know you’ve got a client issue while you still have a client.
You don’t need an elaborate or fancy system to find out what your clients are thinking. You simply need to designate a person to call your clients once per month and ask them how it’s going. Someone needs to play the part of the restaurant manager and walk around from table to table (but do it on the phone).
Identify the problem clients and get to work on making them happy. You won’t fix every issue, but you’ll fix most of them. Turn them from unhappy to neutral. Sometimes you’ll go every further and actually make them happy. Now is the time to act. Don’t ignore the problem any longer.
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