Applying the HEAT model

In today's episode, Mattias talks about his approach to dealing with unhappy customers and explains a smart model that everyone can apply the next time they are in a similar situation.

The "HEAT" model

The model, or framework, that Mattias is introducing is called the "HEAT" model.
Basically, this model reminds you to go through 4 different steps in a specific order whenever you're dealing with an unhappy customer. Here's what the different letters stand for:

H: Hear them out

You need to use your ears, tune in and really find out what the problem is. Let them pour out all the concerns they might have and simply listen. Mattias explains that most people skip this important step and jump right to the solution or try to explain themselves, which can be contra-productive.

E: Emphasize

At this stage, you show your empathy and let them feel that you actually care for them and their problems and truly understand them.

A: Apologize

The person you're dealing with is clearly upset, so always apologize to them.

T: Take action

After going through the first three steps, and only then, is the appropriate time to take action. In many cases, the customer already is a lot more satisfied, because they feel understood and might even come up with a solution themselves or actually only wanted someone to listen to them.
He also adds that it is really important to not only solve the customer's problem but also explain to them why it happened and how you're planning to prevent it from happening again. That shows them that you've really listened to them and you care about them and their experience.

The wrong approach

Mattias also adds a real-life example to clarify how you should not do it. Some time ago he went to a café and realized that there was mold in his food. Instead of making a big scene, he discretely went to the waitress and quietly told her about the problem. Instead of listening and tuning in to him, she jumped right to the solution and offered Mattias 50% off his next meal at that place and to redo his salad. Mattias was surprised by that approach since, if anything, he wanted that food to be free. In addition, once you have mold in your food, you're most likely not planning on coming back to that place anytime soon.

Letting employees stand the HEAT

This example shows how it doesn't matter what industry you're in or what the problem is, it's all about how you tune in to that other person, show empathy, and apologize.
Mattias thinks that most people jump to the solution so quickly because they get afraid when they talk to an unsatisfied customer and can't stand in the "HEAT" (quite literally).

Lastly, Mattias looks at a situation dealing with an unhappy customer from a leadership standpoint. Nowadays, he's the last line of defence and therefore the last person who would actually be contacted by the customer. But this was not always the case. Especially in the early years he tried to take care of everything (and every problem) himself and created a dysfunctional environment around him. At some point, he really needed to bite his tongue and learn how to give responsibilities (also the one for mistakes) to other people. As a leader, it is so important to let your people stay in the "HEAT" and let them take care of the things they created.

Stand in the "HEAT", tune in and show empathy when you're dealing with an unhappy customer.

How do you deal with unhappy customers?

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