I am simultaneously eager while also being slightly horrified that tax season has officially begun.

Horrified, simply because the IRS has been significantly behind the 8-ball this year, and I still can’t believe that we’re already halfway through February 2021.

EAGER … well, because there are so many new credits available to business owners this year, and I’m pretty thrilled about your opportunities to save some money on your tax obligations.

That said, the newest round of PPP loans have been plagued by delays and confusion, and while there are fantastical rumors of the next round of stimulus … I’ll believe it when I see it.

And it might not be as weighted to SMB (Small Business) owners as previous rounds have been. We’ll keep you posted.

This has been an interesting year (to say the least). Even in the middle of the intensity of the busy tax filing season, we can occasionally become the target for somebody’s frustration.

Over the years, and especially when things are busy and stressful, we’ve had to learn how to best handle matters when a client is becoming (for some reason or another) very upset.

Again, this is rare — but in some cases, the client displaces their anger towards the IRS and puts it into their interactions with us. (“No, John, we actually aren’t the ones who are sending you all of that audit correspondence. That would be the nice people at the Department of Treasury.”)

However, what we’ve discovered is that when we handle it rightly, we can leave upset clients even happier with us than even some of our most “reliable” and happy clients.

And I should hasten to add that “John” is a fictional name, and we wouldn’t ever be as rude as what I just typed up there. 🙂

No, we have tried to train our people with an actual plan for handling such matters, so that in the rare instance it does occur, we handle things properly.

Handling Customers In Stressful Times

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” -Oscar Wilde

In ANY business it is inevitable that there will be an instance of misplaced expectations between the customer and business.

And you can choose to allow these interactions to happen at random, trusting in the emotional competency of your staff … or, well, you can develop procedures that will make things right and do so almost every time.

We came across a simple system years ago that I’ll share with you now — because no matter what level of frustration comes forth, this is truly the best way to regain happy clients.

It can be summarized by the acronym “HEAR”…

1) Hear the customer and don’t interrupt.

You don’t interrupt for two reasons:

A. It’s rude to interrupt

B. When people are upset they practice what they are going to say. And they practice it from the beginning. If you interrupt, they are going to start all over again and go off script. 

So … don’t interrupt. Obviously, if the client is getting loud and unruly you may need to quietly interrupt. But, in almost all cases, don’t.

2) Mirror back (Empathize) with something like:

“I can understand why you’re upset.  I would be upset too.” Or, “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”

3) Ask: “What can I do to make this right?”

It doesn’t get much easier than that. Often, you won’t even have to ask the question because it’s pretty obvious what needs to be done. What’s most important in this step is that the attitude is right. Empathy is everything!

4) Resolve – Unless the request is absolutely ridiculous, DO IT!

What’s so great about this approach (and this has been studied, proven, and established with myriad scholarly studies): Often you leave your customer even HAPPIER with you than before the problem occurred!

Yes, that’s actually a likely scenario because they will appreciate how you bent over backwards to make them happy again.

When you put in place a regularized plan, good things happen.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to support your business through these blog posts.

BE THE ROAR not the echo®

Warmly,

Janet Behm