A critical part of running a successful business is managing customers. Even the most reputable business will, at some point, encounter a difficult customer. How you deal with this challenge could mean the difference between a client who is satisfied with a proposed resolution, and one who will never do business with you again.
Below are 7 tips on how to deal with difficult customers and still protect your company’s reputation. Plus we offer a bonus tip on how our data integration app, Commercient SYNC, can help your customer service team.
- Listen to the customer
• An angry customer wants to vent, so start off by only listening.
• Allow the client to talk and don’t interrupt or argue with them.
- Remain calm
• If a customer is being rude or starts shouting, remain calm and keep your emotions under control.
• Never get angry or upset.
• De-escalate the situation by keeping your voice low.
- Don’t take it personally
• Keep in mind that the customer is not angry with you. They are upset about the service provided or the performance of your product (or lack thereof).
• Adopt a positive mental attitude and remain professional at all times.
- Mind your language
• Be mindful of the words you use.
• Avoid rambling in response to a customer’s distress. This just further aggravates the situation.
• What you say (or don’t say) can affect the outcome of your interaction with the customer.
• Refrain from using words that could incite defensive reactions from the customer.
• Use phrases of courtesy. This shows the client that you respect them.
• Apologize with sincerity and empathy, even if the client is being unreasonable. This helps to diffuse the situation.
• Acknowledge any shortcomings from your side or that of your company.
• Express sympathy for the customer’s unpleasant experience.
- Propose a solution
• Communicate what you can and can’t do about the situation.
• Offer an acceptable resolution to the customer.
• Resolving the issue promptly also prevents the situation from escalating any further.
• If you don’t have an immediate resolution, be transparent and clear about this.
• Compensate the customer for any inconvenience caused if the fault or error is on your side.
- Prepare for uncomfortable situations
• Set up training sessions so that team members can practice dealing with difficult customers.
• Develop problem-solving policies and implement strategies to avoid conflict when dealing with difficult customers.
Bonus tip: Using Commercient SYNC, the #1 data integration platform for sales, can be of great help to your customer service team. With SYNC, customer service will have access to integrated data from both your accounting and sales systems. They’ll be able to monitor order information, plus check on bill to and ship to addresses, inventory supplies, serial numbers and more.
An upset client can hurt your bottom line. If you are unable to resolve a difficult customer’s issue efficiently, there is a chance you will ruin your relationship, and this could potentially lead to the loss of that customer.
Addressing a client’s concerns promptly could turn a negative experience into a positive one. If you prepare yourself, you can be better equipped to handle difficult customers tactfully and still maintain your company’s high standards.
About the Author
Anna Kinnear is a Sage Financials Consultant at Edgeware, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Science from the University of South Africa. She has always had a passion for reading and writing.