Learning how to deal with difficult customers is a lifelong skill regardless of which company you work for. As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” While most customers are pleasant, calm, and appreciate your efforts, there are also times when customers become upset, angry, and demanding. While these situations can be quite stressful, you cannot control your customers’ behavior. That being said, here are four tips you can use to control your response to their behavior.
Listen — The customer wants to be heard first before we share our ideas/solutions. Don’t interrupt even if you have legitimate questions. Clarify the details once they have finished making sure that you fully understand the issues. Do not take their complaint personally by getting defensive. Remember that they are human and everyone has bad days. Some of their anger may stem from outside conflicts (such as divorce, a sick family member, or even another company that treated them poorly in the past). Always remain calm and professional. Don’t try to convince them that they shouldn’t be upset; rather offer assurances that your goal is to help them.
Apologize — Your customer’s viewpoint is not your viewpoint. Your viewpoint is irrelevant to them. Show empathy. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Do not assign blame. Use a non-threatening tone of voice and be polite. Use please and thank you in a genuine manner.
Solve — Take responsibility and keep a focus on achieving results. Inform the customer exactly what you are going to do. Provide a timeframe for when they can expect the resolution to take place and to hear back from you, and make sure you follow up. If you promise to call back then make sure that you follow through. Even though they are not happy with you right now, you still have a chance to turn things around for the future of the relationship.
Gratitude — Thank them for bringing this issue to your attention and allowing you the opportunity to correct it. It helps end the conversation on a positive note. Most unhappy customers don’t complain, some will simply leave and never come back. Remember a complaint is an opportunity to repair and/or build an even better relationship than before.
As Jay Baer once said, “Customer Service is the new marketing; it’s what differentiates one business from another.” We all should want to provide good customer service. To do so, we must keep learning. Improvement is a constant work in progress, not a simple action, as such learning and improvement are lifelong processes. Enjoy the ride.
Note: This article was first featured by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) Orlando / Central Florida Chapter.