Your Friendly Somerset Area Accountant Explains: Dealing With Client Disaster

Your Friendly Somerset Area Accountant Explains: Dealing With Client Disaster

May 2, 2012

Yikes! What a week and weekend. Natural disasters, Obamacare … there is almost too much to write about, even for a redoubtable Somerset Area tax professional like myself. (And by the way, the subject line relates to my main article below … not to you!)

But before I get to what I want to discuss, I wanted to make sure you knew about some small-business-related provisions in Obamacare you need to be ready for.

Mandatory coverage: Any company with at least 50 full-time employees must start providing insurance to staff in 2014. If they don’t, and a single worker turns to the government for a health care tax credit or subsidy on the exchanges, then the company has to pay fines. And It won’t be cheap. The penalty starts at $40,000, and increases with the size of the firm’s workforce by $2,000 for each additional worker past 50.

Everyone must purchase some sort of health insurance by 2014. At companies with fewer than 50 workers, that responsibility falls on the employees themselves. Entrepreneurs, of course, will also need to buy insurance for themselves.

Choosing not to buy insurance by 2014 will cost you $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. In 2015, it’s $325 or 2% of income. Penalties rise each year after that.

Well, speaking of disasters … Nobody really talks about what happens when the ___ hits the fan in a business. Understandably so, but most people prefer to focus on how to manage growth, do awesome advertising and generally just grow to the stratosphere.

But if you’ve been in business for ANY amount of time, you’ve certainly faced irate or frustrated customers. It’s simply a function of misplaced expectations–which happens in any relationship, over time.

Well, I’ve put together for you a primer for how to handle this sort of thing.
Your Friendly Somerset Area Accountant Explains: Dealing With Client Disaster

Sometimes the customer is justified in his complaints … other times he is not. So what are you going to do about it?

I’ve written previously of course on handling customer complaints well — but it’s worth covering further, how to handle the other various kinds of circumstances that may arise for this. Because here’s the way many businesses handle it: Ignore the problem, and blame the customer.

Sure, during the fat 90’s and from 2003-early 2008, this might have been fine (plenty of other business out there, after all)…but in this environment, you MUST respond to the feedback you receive.

Shoot, you’ll find that what you thought was a disaster can be converted to an opportunity.

In fact, American Management Association (AMA) research into consumer behavior indicates that the average satisfied customer tells three people about his experience, but the average dissatisfied customer gripes to eleven other people. Negative word-of-mouth advertising is a problem few businesses can afford.

So how will you respond to the customer with a complaint? I’ve already spoken about what NOT to do (ignore the customer, ignore the problem).

“Word-of-Mouth” Marketing Expert, Jerry Wilson, provides these five expert recommendations for managing the complaining customer.

Step one – Acknowledge that the person is upset. “I can see that you are mad”/ “I could see that you’re upset with us.”

Step two – Make a positive reassuring statement. “I want you to know I will get something done about your problem.”

Step three – Make a sad/glad statement. “I’m sorry you had a problem but I’m glad that you called it to my attention.”

Step four – Ask the magic question, “What will make you happy?”

You’ll often be quite surprised–often the dissatisfied customer will ask for something less in settlement than you would freely offer.

Step five – Make the settlement. “Mr. Smith I’m truly sorry that you encountered this problem and I’m going to do exactly what you have requested. We want to keep you as a valuable customer!”

Simple as that.

But the sad fact is that by avoiding this simple process (and not training your employees to follow it, or giving them the proper authority to do so), many businesses set themselves up for aggravating their most important asset: their clients.

And remember — my team and I are here for you, to help in any way we can: 606-678-4372