As human beings, we all have a need to be acknowledged. If we have feedback or a complaint for someone, the thing that will irritate us the most is that feedback or complaint going un-acknowledged.
Think about the last time you, on a personal level, e-mailed your Utility company or Internet Service Provider (ISP) with a complaint about their poor service. How frustrating was it to not get a response back to that e-mail? It’s human nature to be upset that the company isn’t listening to you!
There is a lesson here for any IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) too. Are you properly acknowledging your clients?
Most MSP’s now offer their clients the facility for a support ticket to be e-mailed in. For low priority or “niggling” issues, this is perfect for both the client and the MSP. Rather than the client having to take the time to telephone in an issue - they can e-mail it at their convenience. For the MSP, rather than having the telephone lines tied up with calls that may prevent an urgent or high-priority issue being reported quickly, the e-mailed ticket can be managed off-line separately.
But even with a low priority issue, there is a danger that if you don’t acknowledge the issue and set expectations properly - then the client may take exception.
In these situations it is, at the very minimum, worth setting up an e-mail ticket auto-responder. A short response to acknowledge that the clients e-mail has been received, along with details of a next step “We will call you within 24 hours to schedule work on this ticket” will mean the client is happy that their issue has been acknowledged and is being worked upon. Simple, but effective.
Compare that to the alternative of the client e-mailing in a low priority ticket that isn’t acknowledged, then needing to telephone in to check that their request has been received - and potentially voicing their frustration that they’ve had to make the call - and at best you’re looking at a low priority ticket that is suddenly given priority, and at worst you’re looking at a potential complaint to be dealt with.
But of all the areas you need to make sure you acknowledge clients in, acknowledging client complaints is the most important.
Failing to acknowledge and indeed empathize with clients complaint is business suicide. As individuals, we become most angry and resentful when we’ve voiced a complaint and yet see it ignored.
If handled badly, going unacknowledged or dismissed, the complaint can sit in someone’s mind for a long time - and you can be sure they’ll tell anyone who will listen about how the company doesn’t care.
If you receive a complaint from one of your clients, treat is as a priority. Acknowledge the receipt of the complaint in the first instance, and ask when would be a convenient time to call to discuss. Never discuss complaints via e-mail - e-mail doesn’t convey emotion or intent well and may be misinterpreted by your client - so always call instead.
Throughout the complaint process, acknowledge the client. Acknowledge how their complaint has affected their work. Acknowledge how their complaint has upset them. Acknowledge how you could have done a better job. Acknowledgment is a powerful way to demonstrate that you are on the “same side” as the client - and to reduce adversarial pressure.
The receipt of any complaint is an opportunity for the company involved to listen, acknowledge and then help. If handled well, the complaint can be used to turn an irritated client into a raving fan - who goes away and tells others how much you care about customer service.
Are you acknowledging your clients properly? For support requests, this means acknowledging the receipt of the request and setting expectations for the next step appropriately.
For complaints, this means acknowledging the issue, acknowledging the affect it has had on your client, and acknowledging that you are committed to helping your client.
As human beings, we need to be acknowledged. Failure to acknowledge that fact might mean trouble for your business!