Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Customers
Mike Effle, former CEO of Vendio, knows a thing or two about great customer service. He offers 10 tips on how to turn a bad customer service situation into an opportunity to improve your business.
First and foremost, listen. Do not try to talk over the customer or argue with them. Let the customer have their say, even if you know what they are going to say next, that they don’t have all the information or that they are mistaken. As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
Build rapport through empathy. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Echo the source of their frustration and show that you understand their position and situation. If you can empathize with a customer’s problem, it will help calm them down.
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Lower your voice. If the customer gets louder, speak slowly, in a low tone. Your calm demeanor can carry over to them and help them to settle down. As you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer’s tone or volume, their anger will generally dissipate.
Respond as if all your customers are watching. Pretend you are not talking only to the customer but to an audience that is watching the interaction. This shift in perspective can provide an emotional buffer if the customer is being verbally abusive and will allow you to think more clearly when responding. Since an unruly customer can be a negative referral, assume they’ll repeat the conversation to other potential customers; this mindset can help you do your best to address their concerns in a calming way.