VIP Treatment

By , February 7, 2011 4:11 pm

by Karen Helde

Every library-oriented conference I’ve attended seems to include a session with a title that’s some variation on “Dealing with Difficult People.” Although I know it’s because the topic is always relevant, part of me wonders . . . are we not quite getting the hang of it? The sessions are often good, but I tend to leave feeling that to put the suggestions into practice I’ll need either (1) a PhD in psychology or (2) a laminated flow chart which the “difficult person” and I will work through together, step by step.

That’s why I liked this article which was recently referenced by a LinkedIn contact. Entitled “Empathic attitude can score points with customers,” it outlines a simple, three-step approach for dealing with a potentially negative client interaction. The article is almost a decade old, but this stuff doesn’t change much, right?

The authors propose taking what they call the VIP Approach – Validation, Information, Problem Solving. Validation means assuring your client that their problem has been heard. The information step is about getting the full picture from them, and then supplying them with the relevant information you have. If you owe them an apology, this is the place to do it. Problem solving is where you move forward. You may not be able to give them exactly what they want, but you can usually work out something which will give them a sense of progress and closure.

The short article will give you more details and examples, but isn’t that refreshingly simple?

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