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In this month’s edition of Harvard Business Review, there is an article about high emotion services in the context of cancer care, but with applicability in other areas.

Mediation and ADR services fall into that category, as do services relating to major life events such as birth, marriage, divorce and even car and computer repairs, airline travel, home buying and selling and renovation work.

Customers’ assessments of quality and value, decisions about what and where to buy and recommendations to others are all influenced by emotions. Too often it is said that companies don’t adequately anticipate the emotions involved and therefore can’t mitigate negative ones in the design of their offerings.

High emotion services may elicit intense feelings for the following reasons:

1. Lack of familiarity with the service being offered;

2. Lack of control over the performance of the service;

3. Major consequences if things go wrong;

4. Complexity which gives the provider the upper hand;

5. Long duration over a series of events;

To avoid complaints, service providers have a challenge, as satisfying customers in these situations can be difficult.

What can be done?

1. Recognise that yours is a high emotion service;

2. Identify the possible trigger points during the service and monitor any spikes.

3. Put in place a strategy to respond quickly and early when emotions arise; (a failure to respond leaves customers frustrated powerless and ignored)

4. Prepare customers for what is next; (not knowing the next steps is a source of anxiety)

5. Reassure the customer and defuse the situation by explaining processes and keeping them as short and simple as possible. Use people who can respectfully, calmly and confidently communicate with customers. The right people need to be able to deal with stress.  This is why we only use highly qualified mediators/ADR officials. They must have emotional capacity to deal with others’ stress, resilience to bounce back from emotional encounters and compassion honesty and teamwork. Each person’s complaint is significant to them.

6. Communicate with care as body language, tone and choice of words can have an impact. Choose some key phrases that should be “never” phrases like “there’s nothing we can do.”

7. Enhance customers’ control by giving direct contact to a person. Avoid service gaps and empower with mobile technology.

With mediation, the main trigger points are, the need for the service, making the initial complaint,  having to respond, receiving the response and deciding on any offers. Sometimes people will directly express their emotions at these stages. Our mediators and ADR Officials are well trained to deal with these situations and to get over the emotional barriers to resolution.
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