We all have to deal with difficult customers from time to time. Something I learned a long time ago, is that if we could successfully resolve issues for an angry or complaining customer, they would most often become our most loyal customer.
Customers make judgements on the service and judgements about the business based on how the staff and management respond to a difficult situation.
When dealing with a difficult customer, it is important to acknowledge their feelings, don't ignore, or worse, dismiss their feeling. Typically a complaining customer would have been psyching themselves up for the confrontation, often taking you by surprise.
Imagine the customer blown up like a balloon full of hot air. If you confront your customer, question their judgement, deny or justify your actions, you’ll just be adding more hot air to that balloon. If you keep adding hot air to that balloon, it will eventually explode.
The best thing to do is to let the hot air out of that balloon bit by bit. Allow that customer time to express their feeling, and talk about the problem. Remember, they are ready for a fight, so take them by surprise and stay calm, stay quiet while they talk, listen attentively, and keep your emotions in check. This can be very difficult because we deal with emotions every day, so it is difficult to keep emotions out of the situation. But if you allow that balloon to expel all that hot air, if you allow your customer to talk uninterrupted, you will be surprised how quickly they will calm down.
As you go about resolving the issue, keep in mind your ultimate goal, put yourself in the frame of mind of what you want to achieve. The ultimate goal is to turn this difficult customer to your most loyal customer. This is a completely different mindset to being on the back foot, denying responsibility and finding yourself justifying your actions. It is very tempting as we can get caught up emotionally and our pride in our business can overshadow the issue at hand. So it is important to stay focused on how we can resolve the issue and keep our personal feelings to ourselves.
As you listen to their problem, it is important to put yourself in their shoes, and see things from their perspective. Solutions may present themselves more easily if you empathize with your customer and have an intimate understanding of their concerns and feelings. Apologize where necessary, and move on. Establish and build rapport with the client and tell them what you will do about their complaint. It may be that you need to take notes and advise them you will report this issue to the manager, assure them this will not happen again, or if you are able to, offer a solution that is acceptable, then go about exceeding your client’s expectations.
When dealing with difficult customers, how you deal with the situation is how the customer will remember you, and tell everyone of their experience. Think about your own experiences, if you had a bad experience, you will want to share your feeling about it with anyone you talk to. Alternatively, if you had an amazing experience, with the WOW factor, this can be the most powerful word of mouth advertising for any business.
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Enjoy a successful and prosperous day!