Top 5 tips for handling complaints at an event
Where possible, speak to the person face-to-face. If others are around, try and step aside so as to give them your undivided attention and so as not to widen the issue. Make sure they understand that you are fully focused on their concern. People want to be heard, taken seriously and listened to.
Sounds simple, but too often, due to time pressures complaints are not recorded. Do it! Why? Because you need to measure the rate and content of complaints so you can continue to improve the quality of your event.
3. Be specific - divide fact from fiction
Help those who are complaining to be specific. Go through the 5 Ws and 1H and make sure you separate out fact from fiction :
- what happened?
- who did it happen to?
- where was it?
- when was it?
- why do you feel you want to make a complaint?
- how did it happen?
- How can we help?
4. Don't go into 'Fix It' mode right away
It might banal to say 'put yourself in their shoes' - yet, it is exactly what is needed. If you can think of similar situations you have been in or imagine how they feel, you will have more chance of understanding them. Remember, listening and expressing understanding are much more important than coming up with an answer right away (that is if it is not urgent!).
5. Follow through and follow up
Finally, follow through, bring a solution to the situation, an apology and, if appropriate some sort of compensation and make sure to put measures in place for your next event which will not create the same issues. Then follow up a short time after to see how they are. Every engagement is an opportunity to build better relationships for the future.
Listen and learn and don't give up. Events can be difficult to manage and complaints can be hard to take, but your ability to listen and make changes means you are likely to gain more good will in the future for the event you love!
Make sure you care about what your audience has to say, if not, you might no longer have an audience.