Lesson 5: Difficult Customers


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Lesson 5: Difficult Customers

  1. 1. Lesson 5: Difficult Customers Mama’s Subs
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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