I talk to therapists every week who are stunned that business owners in our own and allied professions, can and will pass out shoddy advice and poor or deceptive services simply to make a dollar at a therapist’s expense.
I see it happen in Facebook chats and LinkedIn groups every single day.
It’s easy to slip from being business owner to victimized consumer.
The minute we step outside of our own areas of expertise, we – like the general public – become vulnerable to those who lack imagination and integrity.
If you’ve hired a CPA to do your taxes only to learn that he didn’t quite get around to completing your return by the deadline this year . . . or you’re working with a web developer who promised to get you on the first page of a Google search but you can’t find your business on the first 10 pages of a Google search . . . or you’re Virtual Assistant has assured you that she will meet your deadline before your next webinar but doesn’t follow through . . . or your billing specialist has repeatedly failed to send out invoices . . . you need to know the 10 steps to take when writing a letter of complaint to another professional to get the results that you want.
I first learned these from Ellen Phillips after reading her book Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed! How to Write Letters of Complaint that Get Results.
I’ve used them several times and have always gotten the results I wanted.
Here they are for you:
Step 1 – Take a breath and calm down.
Don’t vent on social media.
Don’t run off at the mouth to friends and neighbors.
And, don’t put anything in writing while your blood is still boiling.
Step 2 – Gather your thoughts and get organized.
For that matter, organize your receipts, your documentation, and get the facts straight in your own mind.
Step 3 – Do your research to find out who is ultimately in charge.
There is absolutely no reason to continue dealing with the powerless underling that has led you to this point.
It’s much more efficient and much more impactful to go directly to the one with the power to make this situation right.
Step 4 – Remain professional and unemotional.
Don’t curse or threaten or use colorful adjectives.
Just the facts will serve you best here.
Step 5 – Be concise but not-so-subtle.
It’s important to start that letter off in an attention-getting way.
Don’t be shy about how you are affected by the situation that has arisen.
But, don’t be excessively wordy in describing the situation that occurred and the current problem.
(And, don’t forget to include the steps you have taken so far to rectify the situation.)
Step 6 – Note the likelihood of this situation costing you business.
It’s true when you think about your family and friends and loyal clients and referral sources, too, reacting to this situation.
Step 7 – Ask exactly for what you want to rectify this situation.
Don’t be shy.
Don’t whine and hint at what you would like.
Instead, remind this individual that you entered into this business arrangement with integrity and enthusiasm as a loyal customer and would now like “a full reimbursement” and “public apology” or whatever else it might be that would, in your opinion, make this right.
Step 8 – Don’t forget to include a deadline for your request.
State something like “I expect to hear from you within the next seven days” or whatever you believe to be reasonable.
Step 9 – Copy others who might be interested in or able to influence this situation.
When professional and trade organizations, regulatory agencies ( including local, state, and federal agencies), and media outlets are copied, the resolution is often quick.
And, if you find yourself in need of an extra “nudge ” due to inaction, Step 10 is then to go back to each of those individuals that you have copied and send them a personal letter in a similar format.
I hope if you have found yourself needing to stand up to other business owners to get what you have paid for, you’ll drop in here to share how you addressed it, how that worked for you, and what suggestions you might have for other therapists, too.