When you are chasing slow debtors, sometimes mistakes happen.
A client gets upset. It happens. We’re all human.
This post explains a simple 4-paragraph method to respond.
This is the complaint received at one of our clients recently.
Please note that Invoice #12345 is an account for Mrs Jane Sands. It was only sent out from your offices and received by me in late February. A cheque was drawn and hand delivered to your firm on 09/03/09 together with my signed tax return.
This account has nothing to do with Mr John Sands or any of his affairs. John Sand’s account was paid on 16/10/08.
This is not the first time that I have had to complain that:
. the invoice for my affairs has been incorrectly addressed to my husband
. that demands for payment have been received by me for accounts which were received late and were obviously not sent out at the original date of the invoice.
Could you kindly look into this matter.
This is the formula for dealing with written complaints always works. Just 4 short paragraphs.
1:Thank the client and confirm payment received. The ‘thank you’ puts reader in a good frame of mind and ‘payment is here’ is another positive.
2: Explain what happened and apologise.
3: Describe what was done as a result of their complaint.
This demonstates to the the complainant that the mistake(s) should not occur again.
4: Thank the client, be grateful and apologise again.
All of this has been said at least twice before in the reply. Repeating them all again confirms to the client that you are genuine.
This is the reply sent to the complainant on behalf of our client using the formula.
Dear Mrs Sands,
Thank you for your email and for the payment of Invoice 12345. It has now been receipted.
Your fee was incorrectly “coded” to Mr John Sands account instead of to yours. Please accept my apologies for this repeated mistake.
As a direct result of your email I’ve changed a couple of processes
1: to do with the matching of invoices to the correct “code”, and
2: the other to do with the matching of fee dates to the actual mailing out of those fees.
So, thank you, for letting me know what had happened. I’m very grateful and apologise for any upset that may have been caused.
Why It Works:
- It acknowledges that a mistake was made.
- It explains how the mistake occurred and apologises for the first time.
- It shows the complainant that their complaint has had a positive result. This is also a subtle, silent “thank you” – a second ‘thank you’.
- The repetition of ‘thank you’, ‘I’m grateful’ and apology ends the reply on a very positive note for the complainant.
- The response is not sent by the person who did the work. It is also applying the good cop – bad cop technique described in an earlier post.