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Dealing with Difficult Customers


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Dealing with Difficult Customers

  1. 1. Ken Barnes,DBA Barnes Training and Consulting
  2. 2.  A typical dissatisfied customer will tell eight to 10 people about his or her experience. One in five will tell 20 or more.  There is a book by Pete Blackshaw titled, “satisfied customers tell 3 friends, Angry customers tell 3000.  In this age of social media like Face book, blogs, websites, consumer review websites etc, you don’t want to piss off a customer.
  3. 3.  Shouting and Yelling Guests  Angry Guests  Uncooperative Guests  Tardy Guests who will always come in late  Disobedient Guests who will never follow instructions  Guests who always forget their appointments  Unhappy Guests- “vicoden patients”  Guests who are lying.  Guests who don’t know what they want.  Guests who are never impressed.
  4. 4.  There is no one size fit all way to deal with Difficult Guests.  The way out is to know the causes of their anger.  Know why Grandma is so mad with you.
  5. 5.  Expectations not met e.g. “I had been told… but that is not what I got”  Someone was rude to customer: not you don’t have to be rude, customer only have to perceive!  Someone was indifferent e.g.. “ I don’t know I just work here” “ that is our policy” “sorry I cant help you” “sorry its not my fault” note not only words but attitude!  No one listened:- “what is your name?- Ken Barnes. Your first name? Ken, your last name? Barnes, is that your full name?  Making a customer feel he or she is stupid-” you should know we were closed when you called” “You are not making sense”  Your inefficiencies- customers feel you are wasting their time.  Use of emotional triggers
  6. 6. The seven situations of difficult customers are:  You don’t know the answer to a customer’s question.  You have to say no to a customer’s request.  Your computer is working slowly and the customer is getting impatient.  The customer makes an unrealistic request.  The customers doesn’t seem to believe you.  The customer is angry.  The customer doesn’t want to give you the information you need.
  7. 7.  Stay Calm – Tell yourself nothing will make u mad.  Let the Customer Vent-Let the customer know you are listening, you can take down notes. Shows you care.-Thank the customer for bringing the situation to your attention.  Deal with Emotions first- show empathy-”I will be upset too if someone did that to me”, “I know how you feel Mr. Barnes, calling that many times and nobody getting back to you!”  Avoid Emotional Triggers –(will discuss that in details)  Delay action or consult a second opinion-” Mr. Barnes, I want to give you the best resolution to this matter, can you give me a little time to look into this for a few minutes?”
  8. 8. Triggers Calmers Sorry sir, but that is our policy Sir, Here is what we can do Sorry, I can’t do that! Can we do it this other way Sorry, I don’t understand, you are not making sense Is it okay if you explained it again No Sir, I don’t know I can find out for you You should have known or asked What others have found helpful in the past is to The only thing we can do A good option is for us to Look lady, you cant use that language here Hello ma’am I want to help resolve this issue can we go to work on that What Can I do to make
  9. 9.  Thank them for coming to you and please hear them out sincerely and with great empathy  Take responsibility for fixing the problem.  Solve the problem Quickly-solve the problem quickly, delaying too long will aggravate the situation.  Involve the Customer-Find out what is most useful to them not what is easiest to you!  Do Something Extra- an appeasement gift, a gift certificate, free something, a glass of wine, movie ticket etc  Follow Up!
  10. 10.  List some of the few extra things BHC offer to disappointed customers to recover their loyalty?
  11. 11.  Do not try to talk over the customer or argue with them.  Let the customer have their say, even if you know what they are going to say next, and even if they may not have all the information or are mistaken.  As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with the customer  Don’t freeze over the phone.
  12. 12.  You don’t know the answer to a customer’s question (Tell the customer that you don’t know the answer, but you will find out)  You have to say no to a customer’s request (Explain why you have to say no; offer alternatives)  Your computer is working slowly and the customer is getting impatient (Tell the customer your computer is working slowly; keep the customer informed about what’s happening).  The customer makes an unrealistic request (Explain what alternatives you can offer)  The customers doesn’t seem to believe you (Offer to show proof or backup information)  The customer is angry (Stay calm; acknowledge the customer’s feelings)  The customer doesn’t want to give you the information you need (Explain why you need the information)
  13. 13.  Put yourself in the customer's shoes.  Echo back the source of their frustration and show that you understand their position and situation.  If you can identify with a customer's issue, it will help calm them down. If you verbally "nod" during the call, the customer will feel better understood.
  14. 14.  If the customer gets louder, start speaking more slowly and in a lower tone.  Your calm demeanor will reflect on them and will help them to settle down.  As you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer's tone or volume, anger will generally dissipate.  Please don’t enable them!!!
  15. 15.  Pretend you are not talking only to the customer but to an audience that is watching the interaction.  This shift in perspective can provide an emotional buffer if the customer is being verbally abusive and will allow you to think more clearly when responding.  Since an unruly customer can be a negative referral, assuming they'll repeat the conversation to other potential customers can help ensure you've done your best to address their concerns in a calming way.
  16. 16.  If not satisfying the customer is going to take two hours and a bottle of aspirin and risk negative referrals, it is probably better to draw a compromise a bit more in their favor to give you more time to nurture your more productive customer relationships.  Keep in mind that the interaction is not typical of most customers, and that you're dealing with an exception.
  17. 17.  If the customer is swearing or being verbally abusive, take a deep breath and continue as if you didn't hear them.  Responding in kind will not solve anything, and it will usually escalate the situation in a negative direction.  Instead, remind the customer that you are there to help them and their best immediate chance of resolving the situation - often this simple statement will help defuse the situation.
  18. 18.  Always speak to the issue at hand and do not get personal, even if the customer does. Remember that the customer doesn't know you and they're just venting frustration at you as a representative of your company.  Gently guide the conversation back to the issue and how you intend to resolve it, and try to ignore personal comments
  19. 19.  Everyone has bad days. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse, got a traffic ticket that morning or have had a run of bad luck. We've all been there, to some degree.  Try to help make their day better by being a pleasant, calming voice – it'll make you feel good too.
  20. 20.  Even if you promised an update that you don't have yet, call the customer at the scheduled time anyway.  The customer will be reassured to know that you were not trying to dodge them and will appreciate the follow-up.
  21. 21.  At the end of the call, let the customer know exactly what to expect and then be sure to follow through on your promises.  Document the call to ensure you’re well prepared for the next interaction

Editor's Notes

  • Note some of these answers depend on who is talking.