As a business owner, I want my relationships with both clients and vendors to run smoothly 100% of the time. In actuality, of course, business dealings sometimes involve conflict. Although I am not exactly a conflict avoider, I don’t enjoy it either (I left the legal profession almost 6 years ago for that reason and have never looked back)! Nevertheless, I strongly believe that when faced head-on and handled well, conflict can lead to greater trust and a foundation for long-term success.
Whether you are a client or a business owner, you might possibly have experienced conflict in a business relationship, or if not, then you might possibly experience it in the future. Below are some situations I have faced, and which have had different outcomes based on one predominant factor. This factor makes the difference between a happy customer and a dissatisfied one.
Commitment to Excellence at The Essay Expert
I have a team of writers at The Essay Expert who do top-level work, and 95% of our clients are satisfied with the first draft of their resume and LinkedIn profile. I am proud of that number; and I am even prouder that for the small number of clients who have issues with their first write-ups, we are able to create happy clients 99% of the time. The writers who work with me are fully committed to satisfying our clients and they go the extra mile to accommodate each person’s preferences. In the end, I believe that the most important value we offer is our commitment to doing the work required to satisfy every client. Clients leave feeling like we truly partnered with them to meet their needs.
Sometimes I face a situation where a client and writer are not a perfect match. In these cases, if the client speaks up right away (which I encourage them to do), I first determine whether we can resolve the situation with the current writer. If not, I assign the project to another, more senior writer or, in rare cases, step in myself. If any uncorrectable human errors have occurred, I will always offer a partial refund. I am always available for discussion and negotiation, and will do everything I can to reach an agreement and satisfactory resolution.
Sometimes the clients who become The Essay Expert’s biggest fans are those who were not satisfied initially, and with whom we worked tirelessly to remedy the situation. In fact, just this week, one such client referred a connection who hired us for a resume and LinkedIn package.
How to Handle – and Not Handle – Billing Disputes
I am a client to other companies as well as a business owner, and this week I experienced both excellent and poor customer service. In one situation, I raised issues about the service I was receiving and questioned the validity of some charges on their invoice. Despite the fact that I have been a client of this business for two years and have never questioned an invoice before, the owner refused to discuss the issue, instead telling me that the firm no longer would be working with me. I stated my desire to work things out and he still refused, though he did tell me to pay whatever I wanted and they would write off the rest. I was left with a negative impression and if anyone asks me about that business I will tell them how I was treated.
In contrast, with another firm, when we ran into an issue where a job they were doing for me went over budget, I agreed to their terms and requested something in return from them that I felt would be a good trade. They thanked me for my communication and agreed to give me what I asked for. I was left with a positive impression and will continue to refer business to that firm.
The #1 Factor: Customer Service (Plus…)
In each of these cases, what made the difference? Customer service. That’s the #1 factor to watch when addressing business conflict. Good customer service can turn conflict into good will. Bad customer service can create ongoing negativity.
Also note that someone has to start the conversation about the issue at hand if anything is to be done about it. When my clients do not tell me they are dissatisfied, I am at a big disadvantage. I can’t resolve an issue I don’t know about. It’s therefore essential to ask clients about their experience consistently so that they have an opportunity to voice any concerns. Showing interest in the quality of their experience is a key piece to customer service.
Once an issue is aired, I have found that it’s very helpful to hold a strong vision for the relationship. Whichever party states a vision, the other party often aligns with it. This alignment sets the stage for a satisfactory resolution. In rare cases, one party might state a vision for an amicable ongoing relationship and the other does not join that vision; in this situation, the conflict will likely not be resolved.
Thankfully, most of us as human beings are wired to want to work well with other human beings. And most businesses have a strong commitment to good customer service. That commitment, when put into action, creates a foundation where almost any conflict can be resolved.
If you have stories of good customer service or more ideas of how to resolve business conflicts, please share below!