As the old saying goes, “There’s always one in the crowd.” And no matter your business, at some point and time, that “one” is going to find you.
That being the customer who is heavily sighing, shouting, angry, upset, or just plain difficult to handle.
Though it may be tempting to lash out or ignore them, there are other ways to diffuse the situation and turn their frown upside down.
Communication is Key
Though one’s first reaction when dealing with an irate consumer may be to argue back, you can learn how to communicate with them and shift the current negative situation into a positive outcome.
- Don’t Get Defensive: Your immediate reaction to a difficult customer may be to point out mistakes, but a defensive attitude will only escalate the situation. Take a moment and explain that maybe they missed some pertinent information. Walk through it in a non-condescending way.
- Listen to Understand: No matter the issue at hand, the consumer wants their voice to be heard. Even if they may be in the wrong, take the time to listen without interruption, then validate their concerns before diving into a solution.
- Clarifying Their Needs: You don’t have to repeat back word for word what they said. But you are listening and intent on finding a solution to their problem. Ask additional questions. You want them to know you are doing all you can to comprehend their difficulties.
- Be the First to Apologize: Even if you may disagree with what the consumer is upset about, be the first to apologize for any inconvenience this has caused them. Though you may be on the receiving end of their frustration, their problem or dissatisfaction most likely originated well before they came to you with it.
- Keep It Simple: When customers get worked up, their dilemma may come across with too little information or be hard to follow. Once they have divulged where they are, break the problem into smaller pieces and walk them through it step by step. Make sure to give them the opportunity to ask questions throughout so as not to confuse or rile them up even further.
- Create a Viable Solution: Listen to all the customer has to say and then work with them in steps to create a viable solution. You can also let them know how this mistake might be avoided in the future and ask how their experience could be improved the next time around.
Customer Satisfaction is the Goal
It doesn’t matter if the customer’s complaint is valid or not; sending them away satisfied should always be your ultimate goal.
Make sure to start by thanking them for bringing their issue to your attention and follow through the conversation in an empathetic tone.
Most people want to be heard and feel valued, regardless of the circumstance. When you can keep yourself calm, actively listen, validate their experience and simplify the solution, this will most likely send them away on a positive note instead of a negative one.
And don’t forget to thank them again at the end for their patience and understanding. You could also offer a gift card or discount for their inconvenience or set up a time to follow up with them.
Though a situation may start as one fueled with anger or discontent, there is no reason it needs to end in the same way.