How to handle challenging customers

28th August 2020

We’ve all been in the position where a conversation hasn’t gone quite the way we would have liked. Anyone who has been in any customer facing role knows that there are difficult customers/clients out there. We’ve probably been that difficult customer to someone at some point in our lives. 

What’s important is how we deal with these challenging conversations and that we try and move on positively with that particular customer. Let’s see how we can do that. 

Listen and respond 

Quite often, if someone is being hostile or shouting, we tend to jump into defensive mode. Our ears and our brain feel a little disconnected. At this point, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a personal attack. The customer is frustrated and sadly, is taking that frustration out on you. (Obviously, if at any point, the conversation does become personal, there should be protocol from management about how to approach this. It will vary from business to business.) 

Try to remain in the room. Listen to their points and respond with specific and actionable suggestions. The last thing an irate customer wants are vague answers. Don’t promise you can fix the problem before you’ve taken the time to fully understand what the problem is. If you over promise and under deliver, it’ll only make things more challenging for you. 

Evaluate your processes

If you find you’re having the same complaints coming in again and again, it’s time to look inward to your business. There might be a system that’s; outdated or a process that has three steps too many. It’s not fun for your customer service team to have to deal with daily negativity and you may ultimately be alienating and losing valuable business. Is there part of your process that is simply not for purpose

Pick your battles

Anger is a natural human emotion. But it can get in the way of our judgement at times. For some angry customers, it won’t matter what solution you try and give them in that particular moment. Occasionally, it’s a good idea to set a follow up time, put your solution in an email and give them time to cool off and have a rational think about your suggestions. 

If you do choose this option, make sure you commit to your follow up time and follow through! You don’t want the situation fired up anymore than it already is. 

Keep calm and carry on

The fact of the matter is, you’ll always run into challenging customers. The old saying ‘the customer is always right’ is still very true. It can cost you a lot to stoop to someone’s level and match their hostile behaviour. Remember, it’s not a personal attack. All you can do is listen, offer the most realistic solutions you possibly can and try to help them with their issue. 

If it’s time for your customer service process to undergo some work, ixRM can help. Our CRM system has a native customer service suite, designed to help you manage your customers in a smooth, streamline way. Log all your important calls and conversations and set timely reminders and tasks to make sure no case falls through the net. For more information, please contact us today.

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