It’s 2 am and you are awake. Is the difficult parent you have been dealing with on your mind?
Recently I’ve been losing sleep over being a difficult customer.
My mattress has that “sinking in the middle thing” happening only 3 years into buying it. A light bulb went off in my head at 2am last month (when I get my best ideas). We have a 10-year warranty, lets contact the store! Long story short, the mattress company didn’t back it up.
The company said our frame doesn’t have enough support, which was not explained when we purchased it. The only thing the store mentioned when we made the big investment, was that we had to purchase the box frame to get the guarantee.
After much back and forth and no follow up from the store, my husband wrote a long letter to the store, saying we would no longer support the local store. The company and store said we should read the fine print on the warranty card…who reads that, right?! My husband and I thought “we are so right, they are so wrong”. I’m serious about my sleep. I want a comfy and firm mattress. I was emotional about this. This is where I spend half my days!
The Child Care business is an emotional business. After speaking on this topic at the 2016 Child Care Success Summit last year and hearing your stories, I know you all have dealt with difficult parents.
What do we know about Difficult Parents?
Some Parents make unreasonable requests and have unreasonable expectations, they can play fast and loose with the truth. Going forward, let’s call them DPs (Difficult Parents)
The Customer Isn’t Always Right. (Unless it’s me trying to get a new mattress.) This theory is a myth and a good reminder to check our own egos when we are the customer.
What can you do with these DPs?
First step. Take a Breath. Nobody makes you angry… you decide to use anger as a response. Put your big girl pants on and be the peace leader here. Tough, I know. Have a BFF on your side you can vent to in the evening.
Give them maximum effort even if what they ask for is impractical. Try, “I’ll consider that and get back to you by Friday.”
Refer to policies when you need to help explain the “Why”. We want to know why, kids want to know why, and if we have reasoning to back up our policies parents might learn to be a little more understanding. Also consider there might be a “why” to the parent’s anger, something possibly in their personal life.
Be specific. Name the feeling and identify the source of emotion. “Mrs. Smith, from your voicemail I can tell you are upset about the rise in rates this year.” You don’t have to agree with their emotions, simply point them out. However, if you made a mistake, point that out and apologize.
Do not humiliate a parent. Don’t assume they read every word in your Policy Handbook, simply point something out to them in a loving way. You don’t have to agree or stand down from your policies. You do need to listen and make sure they are being heard, work on a solution and give choices. (Choices that work for your business and within your policies)
Thank the parent for being patient while you work on the problem, and for bringing up the problem. About half of all customers who are dissatisfied will just walk away and not return.
Communication also plays a key role in the process.
If email gets too heated, use phone, better yet, bring the parent into your office. A parent is less likely to threaten you in person, and if they do its great grounds to end the relationship with that family.
Ever notice how tone gets mixed up in texts and emails?
Have you ever seen the Key and Peele skit about texting confusion? If you don’t mind an F- bomb here and there, find it on YouTube, and then come back to this article. (skip if you are easily offended, that’s my disclaimer!) You will see how silly things can get with the wrong tone being interpreted.
Dealing with DPs is probably one of the most stressful parts of your job (minuses finances, licensing etc.) Work on re-framing situations. It’s a great time to work on patience with others. Let your emotions arise, recognize them, and let your higher self, step in. Recognize when you have given all you can to please a parent and allow yourself to let that family go. It’s not your job to please everyone.
Please share in the comments some ways you have dealt with difficult parents. We love learning from you!