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Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
Lesson 5: Difficult Customers
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Lesson 5: Difficult Customers

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  • 1. Lesson 5: Difficult Customers Mama’s Subs
  • 2. Difficult Customers  Mastering interactions with difficult customers involves five steps : 1. Determining the reason for the problem 2. Identifying the root cause 3. Rectifying the situation 4. Restoring the relationship 5. Fixing what needs to be fixed
  • 3. Difficult Customers  By the end of this lesson you should know:  How to determine the reason for a customer’s problem calmly and with empathy  With the available information, how to determine the root cause of the problem  How to rectify the situation once you have the root cause  How to restore the broken relationship between the customer and Mama’s Subs  How to fix the problem so that it does not happen again
  • 4. Step 1: Determining the reason for the problem  The first step is the most critical: it is where you find out why the customer is upset  What you say and how you say it are important  Remember, your customer is upset; you do not want to do anything to make them more frustrated
  • 5. Determining the reason for the problem  Apologize  The first words you should say are, “I’m sorry”  It is important to apologize to the customer, whether or not you or Mama’s Subs is at fault  Assure the customer you are going to help  When you give your assurance up front, it can help you put your customer in a different frame of mind  EX: “I’m so sorry that happened, ma’am. I’ll be happy to help you.”  Restate the customer’s opening statement  Customers who are upset or angry may not communicate well.  By first repeating their opening statement, you will ensure you are on the right track
  • 6. Determining the reason for the problem  Listen carefully  After assuring the customer you are going to help, listen to the details of the problem without interrupting.  Listen to the complaint, and you will discover why the customer is upset  Write down key details  Pay attention to clues that will help you understand what happened  Make note of details that will help you solve the problem (e.g., who the customer was giving orders to at the time of the incident)
  • 7. Determining the reason for the problem  Display empathy  Before you proceed, let the customer know that you understand their feelings  Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes  No matter how the customer speaks to you, look at the problem from their perspective  Remain Composed  It is important that you stay composed from the beginning to the end of your interaction with a difficult customer  Becoming defensive and mirroring a customer’s behavior will only agitate the customer further  By maintaining self-control, you will give yourself time to analyze the cause for the customer’s frusteration
  • 8. Step 2: Identifying the root cause  Once you determine why the customer is upset, your next step is to figure out the cause of the problem  It is not enough to simply know the reason for the problem; you have to dig deeper to determine the root cause
  • 9. Identifying the root cause  Investigate the situation  Once you have determined what the problem is, ask the customer politely to hold on while you find out what happened  This may mean asking fellow coworkers if they know anything about the situation  It may also mean going to the restaurant manager to explain the situation and determine if they know anything  Determine if the customer has a valid complaint  After investigating and gathering information, determine whether the customer’s complaint is legitimate  Even if you cannot determine a valid cause for the compliant, it may still be advisable to rule in favor of the customer  You may not know who was responsible for the problem, but that does not mean the customer’s complaint is invalid
  • 10. Identifying the root cause  Apologize again if necessary  If your investigation leads to the conclusion that someone at Mama’s Subs is at fault, take responsibility and apologize again  Apologizing again reiterates your concern and desire to make things right with difficult customers  Explain what happened  Keep emotion out of your voice and be strict to the facts  Be truthful, even if it means saying Mama’s Subs made a mistake (you will not be fired for telling the truth)  Covering up, behaving evasive, or lying is not an acceptable policy
  • 11. Step 3: Rectifying the situation  You have investigated the situation and determined the cause of the problem; now it is time to offer a solution  If you can rectify the problem to the customer’s satisfaction, you get off easy  More than likely, that is not going to be the case, and you are going to offer a solution a customer does not want to hear  What you say and how you say it make a big difference in the customer’s response
  • 12. Rectifying the situation  Tell the customer what you will do to solve the problem  Speak clearly and explain specifically what you will be able to do to rectify the problem  If you are handling a customer who is extremely upset or difficult, take a deep breath to calm your nerves and think about what you will say before proceeding  Focus on what you can do  Always focus on the positive and state what you are able to do rather than what you cannot do  This will put you in the right mindset to help the customer no matter how difficult to handle the problem may be
  • 13. Rectifying the situation  Offer your best solution  By offering the best solution you can, you will sound more confident when presenting your solution  Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes will help you understand how your solution may be received  Never assign blame to the customer  When you offer your solution, do not fault the customer  When you are trying to help a difficult customer, it is never wise to blame them  Similarly, never shirk responsibility by blaming another employee  As a representative, you speak for the whole restaurant  Use “I” or “we” when referring to Mama’s Subs to show you are accountable
  • 14. Rectifying the situation  Show compassion  If the customer expresses dissatisfaction with your solution (and this is very likely to occur), let them know that you understand  You may not be able to fix the problem in the manner the customer may like, but you can at least show you care  Offer an alternative solution  If your best solution is not suitable for the customer, try to find something that will work  If you do not know how to resolve a problem, ask for the customer’s input  Then work together to come up with a realistic solution that is mutually accepted
  • 15. Rectifying the situation  Contacting a restaurant manager  If you are unable to come up with a solution to help the customer, contact your restaurant manager to talk with them  If your restaurant manager is not available, take down the customer’s information and assure them that they will be contacted by the manager about their issue  In some cases, customers prefer to talk to managers about issues  This is perfectly normal  Do not take the request personally  Grab the manager or take down the customer’s information if the manager is unavailable
  • 16. Step 4: Restoring the relationship  What you say next can go a long way in mending the broken relationship  When the bond is broken, you have to work hard to rebuild it
  • 17. Restoring the relationship  Thank the customer for allowing you to help them  After satisfactorily resolving the customer’s problem, go one step further and thank them  You cannot take back what happened, but you can say something to let your customers know you value them  Tell the customer what you will do to avoid the problem in the future  Let the customer know that resolving the problem is important to Mama’s Subs  State what steps you will take to avoid future occurrences  When you take the time to acknowledge that there is a problem that can be fixed, it makes the customer feel valued  The customer will feel they are part of the solution
  • 18. Restoring the relationship  Offer some sort of compensation or restitution  Give the customer something more than is asked for, even if it is only a symbolic gesture (e.g., one free sub and combo coupon)  Doing this will not make the problem go away, but it will make the customer feel good about you and Mama’s Subs  Make a follow up call or visit  As a courtesy to your customer, follow up to make sure the solution was satisfactory  This shows the customers that you are willing to go above and beyond to make sure they are taken care of
  • 19. Step 5: Fixing what needs to be fixed  When you take care of a customer’s problem to his or her satisfaction, you feel good  Unless you fix what went wrong, however, the same type of problem is likely to happen again
  • 20. Fixing what needs to be fixed  Analyze what went wrong  Sometimes this will not be easy  For example, if the problem was cause by another employee, it will be difficult to determine exactly where they went wrong  Still, something can be done to avoid potential problems  A restaurant manager can be informed about the situation and may ask all employees to verify and clarify what went wrong
  • 21. Fixing what needs to be fixed  Review Mama’s Subs policies and procedures  This information can be found in the employee handbook  If you are having frequent complaints in one area, analyze the policies and procedure  If you feel like something in the handbook needs to be changed, notify your restaurant manager as soon as possible  They can send a report to headquarters with a request to alter the policy/procedure  Change to make things better  When you are part of a solution, you will be more satisfied with the work you do  As a voice for Mama’s Subs, you can make a difference in the lives of customers

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