The 24-Hour Rule

No matter how good your school or staff is is, you’re going to experience complaints from time to time. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t lose students every time you make a mistake; you lose them when you don’t properly handle their complaints. Think of complaints as an opportunity to impress your clients.

a. Respond within four hours to the complaint via phone (not email).

b. Listen carefully to the complaint.

c. Apologize for any inconvenience caused (whether real or imagined).

d. Restate the complaint back to the student. “Let me make sure I understand your concern…”

e. Thank the student for bringing the issue to your attention.

f. Ask the student,“What would you like to do?”This is really important. Often, the answer is much less than you expect.

g. Describe exactly what you are willing and able to do to resolve the issue.

h. If you can’t do anything, avoid citing business policy. Instead, use the “feel, felt, found” pattern, for example. “I understand how you feel. A number of student through the years have expressed the same feeling. In time, they found that…” You can also use the “because” bridge: “I understand you want this, this and this. Because we have to be fair to ALL of our clients, we’re only able to do this
in these types of situations. Again, thanks for bringing this to our attention.”

i. Write down what you promised in your log book and follow through.

j. Send a thank-you note (you may include a gift certificate for a local restaurant as a surprise gift).