Dealing with difficult customers

Kelli's editThe only thing worse than an angry and aggressive client or customer is a customer service representative responding with anger, aggression and frustration of his own. As a matter of fact, that is the worst someone can do for a situation since it only results in more anger. As the responses escalate by all parties, the situation can quickly get out of control. So what’s the solution?

The best solution is to remain calm; never get sucked into the huge vacuum of arguing back and forth because all you are doing is feeding into anger. When that happens, nothing gets accomplished because everyone makes poor decisions and can not implement productive suggestions on either side.

So what do we do when a Monday morning begins with an irate phone call or customer?

  • There is only one successful way to start when dealing with a difficult customer, and that is to calm the person down. We need to find a common understanding of the problem and show sincere empathy for the customer’s problem. Reassuring statements as “I am here to help,” and “I understand why you are frustrated; I would be too,” starts off in a positive manner and already sets the stage for problem management.
  • The next imperative step is to understand the problem. It is important to listen carefully and use the customer’s own words so there is no misunderstanding. You do not want to hear, “You weren’t listening!” How can anyone solve a problem if they do not understand the exact nature of the complaint? As you repeat the problem word for word, your customer is now agreeing with you, which is a huge step to calming a person down.
  • Suggest several choices of action and ask the customer their opinion of possible solutions. Customers like to be included in the decisions. Find out if the solutions suggested by the customer are unrealistic.
  • By  this time, the customer is usually calmed down, and at this point a solution is more realistic. If you don’t know how to immediately solve the problem, don’t act as if you do. Admit that you must do more research, but it is imperative you do not ever forget about calling or contacting the customer in a timely period.
  • Always do a follow-up and find out if the solution was indeed acceptable. If you don’t check, how will you ever know if the solution worked? It’s a perfect opportunity to obtain feedback from a customer, and an even better opportunity to develop customer loyalty. Your customers want to know they are important to you.

It’s the old cliché of making lemonade out of lemons, but the techniques we use towards our customers can make the difference if they are on the fence the next time our services are needed.

photo credit: Debs (ò‿ó)♪