Tuesday, July 3, 2012

14 Steps for Dealing With Angry Citizens

Residents, guests, and contractors to your jurisdiction are going to talk to there associates, friends, and neighbors.  Based on how well you handle there problem, determines what they will be talking about.  If you do a good job for somebody they will tell 3 people,  if you do a great job they will tell 10 people, if you provide bad service 25 people will hear about it, and if you get into an argument 50 people will know.

In the fire service we get angry "customers".  This is a more common occurrence in fire prevention. People don't like what they failed for, contractors are looking for there plans, deadlines did not get met, the list is endless.  Problems are going to happen, the difference is in how you deal with people through there problem.

Jeffrey Gitomer, in Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, outlines 14 steps for dealing with unhappy or dissatisfied customers.
  1. Tell them you understand how they feel.
  2. Empathize with them (share a similar experience). Comfort them.
  3. Listen to the complete story. Ask questions to fully understand the situation.  Find out what they need to make the problem better.
  4. Agree with them.
  5. Take notes and confirm the situation.
  6. Be an ambassador for your department. Personally handle the situation.
  7. Don't blame others.  Take responsibility for correcting the problem.
  8. Don't pass the buck. No, "its not my job..."
  9. Respond immediately.
  10. Find common ground.  Establish rapport.
  11. Use humor if possible.
  12. Communicate and agree upon a solution.  Give choices if possible.
  13. Make a follow-up call.
  14. Get a letter.  Tell the customer you would appreciate a brief note on how the situation was resolved.