Fast Company

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

In my professional role, virtually all of the people I come in contact with could be considered customers. Given everyone’s work load and internal demands these days, the easiest people to deal with are by far the company’s customers.

Here’s why:
  1. They are the ones who are paying the bills, I am mindful of that every day
  2. Their requests are often not that unreasonable, when I think about it
  3. There is goodness in disguise with a request - contact with a customer
How do skilled customer service representatives deal with difficult customers? The overall answer is that they do it gracefully. Some tips:

  • Demonstrate your interest by asking probing questions - this is what I call active listening. Sometimes the problem may be below the surface or the reason for the call. You won’t find out unless you probe.
  • Stay positive, constructive, and helpful until you figure out what the next steps are - if you’re not in the conversation with your customer, they will be in conversations about how unhappy they are elsewhere. You want them to speak with you and your want to speak with them.
  • Do what you can do - there must be something you can do right away. In some instances it’s also a matter of communicating next steps. For example, you can acknowledge your customer’s discomfort or experience with your product, apologize for it, and inform him of the one or two things you will do immediately.
  • Honor your word - if you promised you’d call back with a status, even if the status is that the issue has not been resolved, call back and provide that information. Don’t get into excuses, just take the step of communicating clearly and honestly. If you said you’d look into it, communicate about the fact that you did.
What else? What has worked for you as a customer? How about from the other side of the fence?

Valeria Maltoni | Conversation Agent
www.conversationagent.com
http://Twitter.com/ConversationAge

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