To succeed in today’s market, you can’t just sell a great product. You also need to offer quality customer service to every person you encounter. When a customer has an exceptional experience, they tend to write positive online reviews and tell their friends about it. This will increase customer loyalty and overall business revenue. Sounds easy, right?
Sometimes, it’s not so easy to be wonderful to every single person you encounter. Some customers may be angry, intimidating, demanding, indecisive, or impatient, and it might feel difficult to offer them high quality customer service. However, that’s exactly what you must do. At the end of the day, you are a professional who is representing a business.
In this article, we’ll explore how to deal with angry or difficult customers using a step-by-step process. We’ll highlight specific tips and techniques that you can use to maintain a high level of customer service in even the most challenging of situations.
1) Listen politely
The first thing you need to do when a customer has come to you with a problem is listen politely. This is true whether they are yelling about the problem or calmly explaining it. Sometimes a customer just needs to vent, and they need you to listen – even if you aren’t the person who can directly solve the matter. Try to start the conversation with a neutral phrase like “let’s go over what happened,” and go from there.
Resist the temptation to jump to conclusions, interrupt them, or try to solve the problem when they haven’t finished telling you what happened yet. That may only infuriate them further.
Listening politely also means listening actively. Don’t be half on the phone and half listening to them, or let anything else interrupt this conversation. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and keep your arms uncrossed. You should always make time for customers – even angry ones – because you’d be out of a job without them.
2) Repeat their concerns
Once the customer has had time to explain why they’re upset, it’s important to clarify that you’re addressing the right issue. Sometimes the purpose of a discussion can get sidetracked when other minor or past issues are brought up as well.
Using calm and objective wording, repeat their concerns as you understand them. For example, “As I understand it, you are quite rightly upset because the bread you purchased was expired.” If necessary, you can also ask questions to make sure that you’ve identified the problem correctly. For example, “Just to clarify, the bread you purchased yesterday expired 2 days ago?”
Repeating the problem not only shows the customer that you were listening, but it also helps you to zero in on a solution.
Once you understand the full extent of the problem, try to empathize with the customer and see it from their side.
Demonstrate that you understand why they’re upset and apologize for the inconvenience or trouble the situation has caused for them. Showing empathy helps the customer to feel like they’re not alone in this or silly for causing a fuss.
At the same time, don’t acknowledge that you or the company are to blame, as that can lead to lawsuits. You simply understand the problem and are here to make it right, with a phrase like “what can we do to help?”
4) Present solutions
The next step is trying to solve the problem at hand. This may be simple or difficult, depending on the customer and the extent of the problem. If you feel like you know what will make your client happy, tell them how you’d like to correct the situation.
You could say, “I will go into the bakery right now and get you 2 freshly bakes loaves, free of charge.”
If you’re not sure what your client wants from you, or if they resist your proposed solution, you either can present further options, or ask them how they’d like the problem to be resolved. For example, you could say, “If that solution doesn’t work for you, I’d love to hear how we can make this right. If it’s within my power, I’ll get it done, and if it’s not possible, we can work together on another solution.”
Finally, don’t make promises you can’t keep. If necessary, get help from someone who knows more, is calmer, or has more power and authority. It’s important that both parties are satisfied with the solution, so that the relationship can be stronger going forward.
5) Take action
Once you’ve both agreed on a solution, you need to take action immediately. Partly so you don’t forget to fix the issue, and also to assure the customer that you took their complaint seriously and are doing your best to make it right for them.
If they’ve contacted you by phone, make sure you have their name and contact details, and offer yours as well. This provides the customer with a sense of control because they can get hold of you again if necessary.
To keep track of your interactions and easily find their contact details, you can add the customer as a Contact within your 1CRM. From there, you can write notes to record details of your interactions and create Tasks with email reminders. This helps to ensure that you or a colleague will do what was promised to that customer.
Lastly, you can schedule a follow-up call to make sure that the customer is satisfied with the resolution.
More Customer Service Tips…
- Control your voice
The tone, flow, and volume of your voice are as important as the words you choose. You have the power to either intensify or calm the situation at hand. If a customer is irate, strive to be the opposite. Lower your voice, and talk slowly but firmly. Watch that your tone doesn’t include any sarcasm or aggression, and try to keep focus on the issue at hand. A sense of control must be established to put the customer at ease. If you start to get caught up in emotions, they will quickly lose faith in your ability to solve the issue, and escalate the situation further.
- It’s not personal (even when it feels like it)
Every so often, you will be faced with a situation that really challenges your dedication to providing excellent customer service. You might get yelled at, sworn at, have your employment threatened, and even be on the receiving end of some personal insults. At that point, it might feel pretty impossible to not take the situation personally, but that’s exactly what you have to do.Whether an issue is explained calmly or aggressively, it’s still a business issue – not a personal one.
To defuse the situation, try and stick to the facts, stay firm with them, and do your best to ignore personal attacks. Realistically, they probably know very little about you, and responding on a personal level also distracts from the purpose of the conversation. It might even cause a new issue – with the attitude of customer service. Guiding the conversation back to the business issue and how you intend to solve it, is the quickest way to cool down a heated conversation.
- Your words might live on
In this social age, those working in customer service must always be mindful that their words may be repeated to others. This applies to all telephone, email, and in-person interactions. If you are rude, unhelpful, or lose your temper, you might see the results of that interaction within a bad review, tweet, or word of mouth.
- Resolve the issue quickly
Always try to resolve the customer’s issue within a single conversation. They will feel better about the interaction, and it will save you and them from having to revisit the issue at a later date.
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