By Georgine Kryda, CWCC Member
Think about an unhappy client or a B2B connection that is not working as well as you had anticipated. If you’ve tried speaking directly with the other party and still feel as though something is “off,” then consider mediation.
If the situation you’re thinking about is headed for formal legal action, be aware that most courts will require the parties to talk first, either between themselves or with a mediator, even if you or your legal counsel already attempted to negotiate with the other side.
When you start referring to your client as “the other side,” you can choose between two paths. You can demonize “the other side” as your opponent in an escalating struggle with only one victor, or you can consider “the other side” as another perspective regarding how well your business is functioning.
Mediators ask each party for his or her perspective. We seek to identify issues and interests, explore alternative resolutions, and provide a reality check as to the viability of an agreement. Sounds like a business school case study, doesn’t it?
As you listen to the other party in mediation, you can run through a checklist and ask yourself:
- Were my personnel prompt and courteous in responding to this client’s concerns?
- Did my personnel follow my company’s procedures?
- Did my personnel attempt to resolve the dispute appropriately? Could my people have resolved this issue sooner if they had had more authority?
- Did the client’s complaint have any merit regarding the quality of the good or service we provided?
- Do we need to reconsider our follow-up service, warranty/guarantee, or return/refund policy?
Of course you may encounter the problem client, but often there is a real problem in communications – lack thereof or misunderstanding based on language, culture, or personalities. Mediation can help you to get past the chaff of hot tempers and take the grains of constructive feedback as well as to resolve – or at least clarify issues in – a dispute. Thus, mediation offers the business owners a two-for-one deal with no expiration date.
Georgine Kryda holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and is an attorney-mediator in Golden. Her law and mediation practice, Georgine M. Kryda, Ph.D., Esq., LLC, www.gkryda.com, focuses on estate planning and probate as well as dispute resolution. Georgine has been a volunteer mediator with Jefferson County Mediation Services for three years and a member of the CWCC for over two years.