I want to speak to your manager!

3 great tips to deal with difficult customers

Research shows that this is the most dreaded phrase we want to hear when dealing with our customers. 

Let’s face it, we all make mistakes.  So, it’s not about NOT making mistakes, it is about HOW you deal with them afterwards.

I have just had an incident with an insurance company that was constantly “dropping the ball” with regard to my queries. They asked for feedback, but then my feedback was ignored.  I got a standard email response “this query is being dealt with by our customer service staff” but nothing came of it. The longer I waited, the higher my frustration levels grew!

Does this sound familiar to you? 

The unfortunate thing is the longer the company ignored me and the higher my frustrations climbed, the more the “looking glass effect” kicked in (where I started looking at every small detail the company was doing wrong).  By this time I was not in the mood for empty promises, I demanded to see their manager!

So, how should they have dealt with me?

From working with customers in all works of life, I have learnt some strategies to turn an angry customer into a happy one (most of the time).  Here are 3 top tips to help you on your way.

  1. When emotions are high, intelligence is low. 

When your customer is emotional because of their frustration, you need to understand that when emotions are high, people don’t think clearly.  Have you ever been in a stressful or emotional situation and not had the words to respond to someone who has put you under pressure?  Then as you leave that situation, you get a brainwave of the perfect answer you should have said to that person?  This is because we don’t think clearly when we are in a high stress or emotion state.

Our first objective is for our customer to be in a place where they will listen to reason and be able to think clearly.  They cannot do this when they are angry or frustrated with the situation they are in. 

So, allow them to finish their story in full.  The worst thing you can do when a customer is telling you why they are unhappy is to interrupt them. 

  1. Listen and respond with understanding

The biggest thing that makes your customer angry is when they feel like they are NOT being listened to – that they are not valued and taken seriously.

Most of us think we listen but we don’t.  In a situation like this, we want to respond and defend ourselves and therefore spend our time thinking of an answer rather than listening to what the customer is saying. 

The way the customer knows you are listening is to respond with something that says, “I hear you” and “I am trying to understand what you are going through”.  Include two things in your response:

  1. The facts – situation they are in or experience they have had.
  2. Their feelings – their emotions around their situation or experience.

Let me give you an example.  In my experience with the insurance company I explained earlier, they could have responded with, “I can see that you are frustrated that we have not responded to your queries.”

  1. Take responsibility to help solve the problem

The customer wants to know you are willing to help resolve the issue. If you are unable to help them, find someone who can.  When you are handing the customer over to someone else, brief that person so the customer does not have to repeat themselves. Then follow up! Often, we hand over the issue to someone else and then forget about it.  Follow up and make sure that the person that you have handed the issue over to has dealt with it. 

If you want to find out more on how you can master these skills, please email us on info@htalk.co.za

I want to speak to your manager!

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