Customers can be very difficult and unreasonable at times. I am sure we would have witnessed situations where customer service executives need to handle difficult customers who are hard to please. However, people providing customer service or those interacting with such customers do not have an option but to face them as amicably as possible and resolve any issues or problems quickly and diffuse the matter immediately.
Typically, customers turn irate and difficult when they expect something and do not get it. Though there is no fool proof method to handle difficult customers, the experience can be made less unpleasant if we try and understand what exactly the customers expect in such situations.
Understanding: If I were a customer seeking some help or solution to a problem that I encountered, the least I expect is to have someone share the responsibility of solving the issue or finding a solution to the problem. I expect someone to understand my predicament and give me the assurance that they care by showing a sense of urgency in attending to the matter. This certainly will help me calm if I am a hassled customer.
Listening: A patient hearing to the complaints of irate customers would actually soften their stand and make them more reasonable in their demands. Allow the customers to complete what they intend to say without any interruptions. By being an active listener you are communicating your earnestness in helping them and giving them the confidence that you care.
Empathy: It helps to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes by trying and understanding the reason for their anger or frustration. Though customers’ behavior could sometimes be totally unjustified, it helps when we do not take the customer’s words personally and ask questions that show our empathy towards their situation. This might help in softening their stand and diffusing a potential deadlock.
Trust and Respect: “Oh the piece might have been mishandled; it is not covered by the warranty” or “The company cannot be held responsible if you have not followed the instructional manual”. Such statements only show that we do not trust customers’ intentions and capabilities. Customers expect to be trusted and respected. When they come to us with a problem, our tone should never communicate that we do not trust their intentions. By acknowledging and appreciating the situation, you establish a rapport which can help in handling difficult customers.
Solutions: Customers expect solutions for their problems. They are not interested to hear representatives defending the company’s policy or regulations. What one needs to focus is on providing them with alternatives to find best solution. This would be helpful in dealing with tough situations with customers.
Customer service is vital to any organization. Dissatisfied customers are more likely to talk about their bad experience to others (providing bad publicity to the organization) than satisfied customers talking about their good experience with an organization. Customers are important to any organization; it is important for customer service staff to handle difficult customers by understanding and meeting their expectations.
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