Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Public Relations in Adverse Situations (Newsletter: June 1999)

This is a reprinting of an article I wrote for the Newsletter, which was a monthly publication of PCCC&C.

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Okay, how many of you like to get complaints?

It sounds like a silly question, but complaints give you the best opportunity to cross-sell services, improve existing services, and create new services! Most people in the industry know this from some past training, but it is worth reiterating.

There are some easy steps that can be taken to improve the likelihood of a positive result from and adverse situation:

  1. Don't take the complaint personally. Even if the complaint is about you, it is better to disassociate your personal feelings from the situation. Imagine they are complaining about whoever was sitting in that chair.
  2. Don't argue with the person complaining. Arguments seldom have positive results.
  3. Listen for the 'real problem.' Improving your skills in active listening and paraphrasing will help you get to the core of the problem.
  4. Offer solutions, but don't require a decision on the spot. Some people feel more comfortable after considering options. Quick decisions often are accompanied with further regret.
  5. Once consensus has been reached, implement the agreed upon solution as quickly as possible.
I should warn you that handling complaints effectively will have the negative side effect of being sought for solutions to problems that other staff member have to handle. Maybe we'll talk about smooth referral next month!

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