There are times when working with customers can be a dream— you communicate easily, are on the same page, have the same timing.
But, what happens when you walk into a situation that is a customer service nightmare with challenging customers?
Sometimes you may actually be responsible for the situation. Other times the customer walked in with their own baggage from the get-go.
- Maybe they have had a bad day.
- Have heavy personal problems that spill over into work.
- Or have an impossible deadline that they are under pressure to make.
Whatever the reason, they are cranky. And nothing you can do or say is the right thing.
So how can you turn a customer service nightmare into something that may even improve your business?
As a company, we specialize in high-quality products combined with great customer service, and we’ve got plenty of tips to share.
Even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before or know exactly where they are going before they get there, allow the challenging customers, and all customers to have their say.
Be respectful— even if they aren’t. Don’t talk over them or argue with them. They may not have all the information— or the correct information— but let them get it out first.
Empathize and Build
While listening, try to appreciate what’s going on with your challenging customers and find ways to build a rapport.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Do your best to echo back what they told you. Show them you understand their position and situation.
When challenging customers feel “heard,” it helps them calm down. Give verbal cues if you are on the phone so that they know that you are listening.
Keep Your Voice Calm
This tip is especially crucial if the challenging customers are ramping up. When they get louder, you speak lower. When they get faster, you get slower.
If you do this without sounding condescending, they will likely settle down. It will also help you to approach the situation calmly and clearly without being affected by the customer’s tone or volume. If you don’t go with them to angerville, they are more likely to meet you somewhere in the middle.
Pretend like You Have an Audience
Hopefully, this isn’t happening in front of other customers, but if it were, you would be highly aware of how you were presenting yourself in front of all the other customers, right?
Keep that in mind when you are one on one— imagine other customers are there in the room with you and you need to present yourself in the best possible manner.
This tip provides an emotional buffer if the customer verbally abuses you. It will also lay the groundwork for more clarity when you respond.
Also, keep in mind this customer will likely repeat the conversation to other potential customers, and if you are reactive, you have opened the door to negative referrals.
It’s Okay to Give In
You may not be able to satisfy the customer. Or the cost/benefit of the amount of time, trouble, and negative referrals may not be worth it.
If that’s the case, come to a compromise that may not be what you want but will satisfy them. That way, you can focus on the more productive customer relationships.
And don’t let it get to you. This interaction is an exception to the rule. Most customers will not behave in this way.
Never React in Anger
Reacting in anger will only escalate the situation. You do not need to take abuse, but you also do not need to hand it out either.
When dealing with an abusive customer, take a deep breath. Tell the customer that you are there to help them that you are their best and most immediate chance of resolving the situation.
It’s surprising how often this statement will defuse a heightened situation.
It’s Not Personal
Stay on the issue at hand. Even if the customer tries to incite you, do not get personal. This customer doesn’t know you.
They are angry with your company and are venting at the company representative— which at this moment is, unfortunately, you.
Take another breath and quietly guide the conversation back to the issue and how you intend to resolve it rather than reacting to any personal comments.
You Are Working With a Human Being
Everyone has bad days. You know you’ve been there, right? That doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it makes it a little easier to have some compassion and find ways to build a rapport with them.
Do what you can to make their day better by being pleasant and calm. This choice impacts both of you positively.
Clearly State Next Steps
At the end of your conversation, clearly, state what the customer should expect and when. Make sure you follow through on your promises.
If you promised to follow up with some information, an update, or a solution by a certain time, but you don’t have what you promised in hand yet— call them anyway.
You may hesitate because you expect more abuse or judgment, but your follow-through will assure your customer you are working toward their best interests and not dodging the situation.
Document the Call
This tip ensures you or your co-workers are well prepared for the next interaction.
Take a Breather
After these kind of interactions, it’s essential to get clear and grounded again. Even if all you have time to do is get a drink of water or walk outside to get a breath of fresh air, do it.
This tip ensures you won’t take any of that negative energy into the next interaction with your next customer. And if you feel like you might be a little cranky yourself, you might want to hand off the next customer to someone else on your support team.
We Can Help
We hope these tips can help you out with those not-so-perfect customer interactions! And remember, we’re here to help you with your premium water dispenser needs whenever you need us!