Practical Tips for Dealing with Difficult Customers?
No matter how good your service is, there will always be some customers who are unhappy with it. They could be unhappy for any number of reasons: the price charged, the product delivered or even because they think they’re not getting what was promised. This may not necessarily mean that you have done something wrong; their expectation might be outside the scope of the service you offer.
It doesn’t matter how minor or irritating their complaint, your response is important because it will be communicated to other customers and could affect future business. Your reputation as a business depends on how you handle difficult customers, so here are ten top tips to help you deal with them:
1) Find Out Why They Are Unhappy
It might be obvious, but find out what’s making them unhappy. If there is an issue, try to think about ways of putting it right. Don’t ignore the customer; make sure you listen attentively to what they are saying. You may not always be able to satisfy every customer, but if you give it your best shot you won’t go far wrong.
2) Apologize, Even If You Don’t Think It’s Your Fault
You may not believe that everything they claim is true, but even if part of it is your fault, apologize and show that you really mean it. They may be attempting to flex their muscles or just show off, so don’t let it get to you.
3) Make Amends Quickly
If the complaint is genuine, make sure you put things right as quickly as possible. The longer customers wait for what they are entitled to expect under the terms of your contract, the more they will fume and spread their poison amongst others. They may be cross today, but you don’t want that to turn into a public condemnation tomorrow.
4) Ensure Your Apology Is Genuine
If the mistake is due to your negligence, apologize. If it’s because of an omission or misunderstanding on your part, try to act quickly before the damage gets worse. This shows customers that you are trying to do the right thing by them.
5) Respond Privately, Not Publicly
If you’re really not to blame and the customer is overreacting, tell them that you’d rather sort out their concerns privately. You can give customers an explanation if they are dissatisfied; but remember it should be done in private where there won’t be any witnesses to cause embarrassment.
6) Listen, But Don’t Engage in Endless Discussion
If the discussion goes on for hours and you’re getting nowhere, tell them that you’ve listened to what they have said and would like to think about it overnight before you respond. Then send them another message when you are ready to speak again. Be careful if their complaint has brought up something you knew about; they may try to drag the conversation on further to get more information out of you.
7) Don’t Make Excuses
Talking in circles or making excuses will just infuriate customers even more. They don’t want to hear that some other department is responsible for their problem, or that it’s not your fault. They want you to fix their problem as soon as possible so stop trying to fob them off and be sure of what you say.
8) Don’t Bring In Other Customers For Support
You may have other customers who will back you up, but don’t ask them to join the discussion because it could make things worse. You mustn’t let this escalate into a battle of words on the telephone or worse still, undermine your authority.
9) Don’t Bite Back If Customers Attack You Personally
If customers are angry and want to lash out at you personally, stay calm and don’t retaliate with an angry retort unless there is some explanation for that. However, if they are asking for information that is not confidential, feel free to tell them that you do not disclose such information.
10) Don’t Make Threats You Can’t Carry Out
If customers behave like bullies, don’t threaten them back with legal action or other threats. You’ll just be giving the customer what they want by causing a scene. You don’t have to allow yourself to be intimidated by customers who are trying it on.
11) Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Don’t agree to refund money or give something extra if you know you can’t do it. Customers will smell a rat immediately. Instead, tell them that you are confident of finding a solution and explain why your solution is the best one for both parties.
12) If Things Go Really Badly, Talk to a Supervisor
If customers are being abusive or threatening towards you, talk to your supervisor as soon as possible. You should report any incidents that escalate into physical violence or racism. The law requires you to do this and help from the police may be needed.
13) Don’t Dispute Charges When Things Go Wrong
If your company makes a billing or pricing error and charges the customer more than they should have paid, don’t dispute the charge. There could be a good reason for it and if you reimburse customers without investigating, you can seriously undermine your business’s credibility.
14) Be Ready To Meet With Customers If They Ask You To
Be ready to meet with customers if they ask you to. If a customer complains that it’s hard to get hold of you, tell them that you’ll be happy to meet them face-to-face for a one-on-one discussion. The more often customers hear your voice and see your face, the better they will feel about what you have done.
15) Keep Customers Informed
If the process for finding a solution takes time, give customers regular updates. The most important update they need is when you’ve finished looking into the problem and have the results of your investigation; but you should also update them if things change or if their case won’t be resolved that day.
16) Always Offer To Resolve Complaints
If a customer complains in person, always offer to resolve the complaint. If you don’t agree with their complaint, explain why and offer to assist them so that they can come back another time. Even if you cannot find a solution for the problem today, at least they will know that it is being looked into and that you will be back to them again.
17) Don’t Disappear Off The Scene Or Hide Behind Your Desk
Don’t disappear off the scene or hide behind your desk when a customer needs some help, because they won’t approach you if you do this. If they need help, walk over and ask if they would like to speak with a member of your team.
18) Be Patient With New Customers and Sales People
Don’t be too quick to criticize new customers or sales people who make mistakes when they first start working with you. They may be trying their best to do the job, but lack experience. If you do get annoyed, take a moment to think about why you are angry and then take a deep breath.
19) Get New Staff off to a Good Start
Don’t give new staff members a hard time on their first day – everyone has to learn the ropes at some point! Instead, make sure that they have all the information they need and if you can, try to be nice. If you are nice to new employees, they are more likely to be helpful and friendly.
20) Don’t Take it Out on Customers When You’re Having a Bad Day
Don’t take it out on customers when you’re having a bad day. Your problems will only make their experience worse because you’ll find it harder to resolve their issues if you’re feeling stressed. To cope with this, always make sure that you take the time to relax and chill out when you’re feeling stressed, because there’s nothing worse than having an angry customer!