As we begin to get back into our regular daily routines in our centers, we need to brace ourselves for the inevitable new list of complaints that we will be hearing from parents. While these complaints will be the last thing that we want to deal with, they will be much easier to navigate if we proactively strategize how to resolve them. And in this case, being proactive includes shifting our mindset in how we view complaints. (Two great books that I recommend that have helped me to do this are A Complaint Is A Gift by Janelle Barlow and Clause Moller, and The Disney Way by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson.)
We’ve all experienced both excellent and terrible customer service before, so we know the ramifications of both. Chances are, if you repeatedly experience great customer service somewhere, you will keep going back. You will even continue to go back when you finally do run into a time when the experience is not quite up to par once or twice because you have already built rapport with that business and can bet they are probably just having an unusually off day. But, what if you had a poor experience with a business during one of your first interactions with them? Odds are that you probably won’t be giving that business a second chance.
In this industry especially, we don’t get second chances at making a great first impression. But we are much more likely to get a second chance and be given grace when we have an off day by a family that we have already built rapport with. So often when someone complains, we instinctively go into defense mode because we let our emotions get the best of us. We are so fast to justify our decisions/actions, that oftentimes we don’t even fully listen to or try to understand the parent/staff member’s concern.
Think to a time where you had to bring up what you thought could be an unsettling complaint. You were probably nervous and stress-ridden from it, right? Think about how stressful it can be for a parent/staff member to bring a complaint forward. By coming forward, they risk puttin