Tips on Dealing with a Difficult Customer
No one enjoys dealing with complex customers, and many people shy away from the task. Customers’ behavior almost always reflects what they think about a company and its product. Customer attitudes are not set in stone; they are fluid and may depend on how others in the industry treat them. Therefore, any strategy for dealing with disgruntled customers must take into account their expectations as well as your own business goals. Here are tips businesses use when dealing with a demanding customer.
1. Build Rapport Through Empathy
It is important to remember that many customers who act difficult are not tricky at all. They may be frustrated, and how they express their frustrations can be misunderstood. Therefore, it helps to start by acknowledging how frustrated the customer must feel and expressing empathy for the situation. Businesses with empathetic customer support agents report a smaller number of dissatisfied customers and are less likely to have the customer end a call before the problem is resolved.
2. Acknowledging Their Concerns
It is human nature to be defensive if someone points out a flaw. Businesses that recognize this and address the issue head-on can defuse the situation. According to pain management specialist Jordan Sudberg, “Human nature dictates that when people feel disrespected, they react negatively.” Therefore, if a business acknowledges a customer’s concern and admits fault, it can significantly improve the situation. To make this task easier, companies often ask customers to describe their problems before attempting to correct the situation. Customers who successfully address their concerns are less likely to be challenging to deal with in the future, especially when there is a follow-up phone call or email to check in on their satisfaction.
3. Focus on Cultivating Long-Term Relationships
Most customers who complain vigorously about a company are just looking for better service in the future. They don’t want anyone fired or a business to go out of business; they want things to improve over time. If a company can cultivate long-lasting relationships with these customers, it will be less likely to have issues in the future. This is where businesses need to make a strategic decision between an immediate fix and building long-term loyalty. If it is possible to resolve the problem without putting a strain on company resources, that is best for both parties involved.
4. Apologizing and Expressing Regret
When someone feels wronged or insulted, saying “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward defusing the situation. This is especially true for companies with policies that make customers feel taken advantage of or cheated. Businesses report that many customers appreciate an apology and seem more tolerant of mistakes when they recognize that the company has acknowledged their feelings and made an effort to improve in the future.
5. Providing the Customer with Details of the Problem
When a customer expresses frustration about a product or service, it is essential to provide him with all the details. Jordan Sudberg advises businesses on how to correct errors without causing their customers any more stress: “Provide clear instructions and make sure that all involved parties have been notified.” Thus, when dealing with an unhappy customer, stay transparent and honest. Business people must know all the facts so you can provide your customers with the information they need to make them feel at ease.
Businesses can use these tips to maintain business relationships with customers, who become less likely to complain and more likely to recommend their businesses.