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There are times when we need to deal with a customer that is out of control. These situations can be stressful, but when handled well they can be incredibly rewarding interactions for both you and your customer.
Here are some suggestions that may help you in these situations:
1. Match their energy level
Some training programs will teach you to stay calm no matter how angry the person is. I would suggest that too much calm can actually cause an increase in your customer’s anger level. Sometimes a portrayal of calm can be misinterpreted as disinterest in the customer’s concern.
Instead of calm I recommend reflecting the customer’s anger with an increased level of concern and tone of voice that shows you take them seriously. On the inside you should be calm waters, but your tone should be raised in a manner to show a reflection of concern never disinterest or lack of recognition of their concerns. I have found that when you communicate in this manner the customer feels as though you get it and you understand and take seriously their concern. Often their anger dissipates and they are ready to talk.
2. Avoid saying ‘I don’t know’
Those 3 little words can escalate an upset customer. Although you really may not know the answer try using statements like:
“That is a great question, let me find out for you”
“Give me a few minutes and I will find out for you.”
“That is a question for _______(fill in appropriately) let me call them for you”
3. Use ‘Feel, Felt, Found’ statements to show empathy and acknowledgement
For example, a customer is angry about a product that was not what they thought it was. You might say something like:
“Mr. Smith I can see how you would feel angry, I felt that way as well when I dealt with my cell phone company. What I found very helpful was talking it through with their customer service dept. Once I was able to discuss the issue clearly they were very willing to help me find a solution.”
Feel, Felt, Found can be powerful phrases in your tool box for all types of situations where showing empathy and acknowledgment are appropriate.
4. Avoid the use of ‘red’ words
Yes, think of the snorting bull ready to charge. If we wave the red flag they charge, but if we wave the green flag they start to calm down. Here are some examples:
You : The use of the word ‘you’ in a conflict situation can seem to an upset person as if you are pointing a finger at them. It puts the blame on them and escalates the situation. Use I statements instead.
Instead of: “If you don’t calm down I won’t help you”
try this: “I am finding it difficult to resolve your concern when your voice is raised”
But : When you say the word but it negates anything good you said before the ‘but’.
Instead of: “I am very sorry, but I am not the person to help you.”
Try this: “I am very sorry. Please let me get the person who can help you.”
These are just a couple of examples of how we can deal with difficult customer interactions and create stronger relationships with those customers.
About the Author:
Teresa (Terri) Slack offers clients the benefit of 30 years of experience. She is not only knowledgeable in bookkeeping, but in accounting system set up, business management, sales and marketing, customer service, staff training, policy and procedure, forecasting, staff leadership and mentor-ship programs. With such a well rounded business skill set, Terri can help clients with more than just their bookkeeping, but can consult on their business operation as a whole.
Learn more at http://www.financly.ca