“I have an appointment!  I shouldn’t have to wait!”

irate customerEver heard those words?  Or something similar?  The familiar sensation in your stomach as you become aware you are about to be blind-sided by something your Team usually handles? Feel your facial muscles tense as you try desperately to keep your smile pleasant, keep your eyebrows in an up position and to keep your eyes from doing a giant eye-roll.  You know in your heart that you are having the wrong reaction to the situation, but some days – it’s just hard to take a hit.

How could we re-frame the situation?  What would be a more authentic and compassionate response (physical and verbal) to the client/patient having a minor meltdown in front of you?

Sometimes, a complaint like this is a cry for help or an attempt to shine a light on a perceived wrong-doing.  But more likely, an outburst like this occurs because of a perceived lack of control by the client/patient.  It’s a universal reaction.   When schedules and plans are ravaged by things they can’t control, they lash out.

So what does this irate client/patient really want?  To be heard.  To be valued and respected.  To have someone in control actually take responsibility and apologize.  To be listened to and not patronized is by far the finest gift you could give them at this point.

In the end, “the customer is always the customer”.  Not right.  Not wrong.  Not good.  Not bad.  They just are the customer.  You can’t run a business without them.  And you wouldn’t want to. We are here to serve – graciously with the respect and dignity they require.

The client/patient in this story actually gave the Team a huge learning opportunity.  That’s a gift.  Be appreciative and brainstorm as a Team how to keep this scenario from repeating itself.

Problem-solving is an art form – and it takes practice.  Smile and embrace the opportunity to grow.

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