How to turn a client complaint into a win

Complaints are part of an intermediary’s life. Whether it stems from frustration with a claims process or confusion over a policy, it can be tricky dealing with an unhappy client. With the right tactics and responses at the ready, you can quickly turn a negative into a positive, and streamline processes in your business. 


1. Stay calm and get the full story


No one likes to be criticised but it’s important to put yourself in your client’s shoes. They are angry or frustrated and want to be heard. Hear them out, making sure you get all the details. Don’t be tempted to defend yourself or argue back. Diffuse the situation with phrases such as “I understand”, “I see” and “okay”. Let the client speak without interruption and he/she might just reach a solution on their own. 


2. Acknowledge what they say 


Listen – really listen – to what they are saying. Get the ‘real story’. Are they blaming your staff but really unhappy about the claims process? Are they confused about the cover they chose? Are they underinsured but can’t afford more? Try to read between the lines what the real issue is and, if possible, make notes on various ways to resolve these while they are talking. 


3. Don’t compare complaints


You might hear certain complaints on a weekly basis but remember, for that person, their complaint is unique to them. Treat each complaint individually and fight the urge to tell the client that theirs is a common issue.


4. Try to diffuse the situation 


Try to turn a complaint into a positive feedback session. Thank your client for taking the time to share their thoughts with you. Tell them that you want to understand exactly what they are saying and want to work with them to get it resolved. 


5. Now offer support  


Different complaints need different solutions – you may just have to hear them out and offer an apology, or you may have to set up a meeting to go over their policy again. Ideally, offer a few options to the client to make them feel in control of the situation. Always resolve complaints as quickly as possible, making your client feel as though they are being treated as your first priority. 


6. Give an explanation if it helps 


Once you’ve given possible solutions to a client’s complaint, it could help to explain a certain product or process again. Then ask the client kindly if they understand the process better and whether they have any questions. Give them the opportunity to get any other fears or queries off their chests.


7. Say you’re sorry and say thank you 


Offer a sincere apology – even if a complaint turns out not to be your fault, you can apologise for their inconvenience and strengthen your relationship by demonstrating that you care. Also say ‘thank you’ that they brought something to your attention. 


8. Train your staff in complaint management 


Share these tips with all of your staff members and discuss a procedure to follow should you not be available to take a phone call. It could also help to keep a record of client complaints and to use this during training to pre-empt any issues that may arise. 


9. Follow up  


After you hang up, set a reminder to follow up with that client a day, week or month later. This will make a client feel appreciated and could also flag any further issues that may still cause them to be unhappy. 


10. Easy Santam tools to help clients and intermediaries 


Remind clients that there are easier ways to, for example, file a claim. The Incident Reporter function of the Santam app lets you upload photos, describe an incident and file a claim. As an intermediary you could also simplify the claims process by uploading claims to online services instead of spending time and money on doing this over the phone. Verbally filing claims may create opportunities for errors. 


If you have any questions, please get in touch with your relationship manager.