You've all heard the saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." But we let words hurt way too often. Clients say insensitive,
hurtful things, that we let get under our skin and ruin a perfectly good day.
The emotions they rouse spill over into our work and lead us to mistreat our co-workers. We let them adversely affect our
relationships and our marriages, even our desire to be with those we love. We, in turn, make hurtful comments to those we
love and care for in response to the way we were treated. We let others direct our lives down a negative path.
The good news: We can control how we respond to unkind or even threatening communication. Most insensitive comments stem from
complainers' personal problems, traumas, and challenges that we know nothing about—pressures that manifest themselves in the
form of negative comments.
Within each complaint, however maligned the source, there's a kernel of truth that can ultimately benefit us—if we take the
time to look for it and then to properly analyze and assess it. Here are some of the most common hurtful things that clients
say, the motivation behind the words, and some guidelines to effectively deal with conflict.
1. You charge too much
"I spend more on my dog's medical bills than on my own."
"I can get this down the road for half what you charge."
Complaints about money surely top the list of nasty things clients say to us. But generally, clients are just letting off
innocent steam. Instead of letting these little darts get to you, try making the exchange humorous. Train your team to keep
smiling when these inevitable comments pop up. Prepare some responses such as, "Well, at least you don't have to pay for their
college education or buy them a car," or, "Just think how much money you saved by not having to pay for Sandy's wedding."
Don't fret over these usually innocent complaints. In fact, if you're not receiving at least weekly gripes about price, you're
probably charging too little. Many of our clients are value-centered consumers. They want the best care possible for a fair
price. They know and expect that the best care will be more expensive than a lower-quality clinic.
Communication tactics : Side with your critics
Clients wouldn't feel comfortable taking their pets to what they perceived was an inferior veterinary hospital. Yet they want
you to know that they wished you were cheaper. The truth is, even if you lowered your fees 50 percent or more, you'd still
get complaints about price. As long as the complaint isn't tied to your service, you're going to be fine.
If the complaint is linked to a comment about poor or indifferent service; inattention by staff or doctors; or poor medical,
surgical or diagnostic care, you'd better pay close attention. Pure price complaints are a part of dealing with the general
public whereas criticism of your service is a call to action.