Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

"5 Tips for Handling Difficult Customers"


As anyone who has worked in customer service can tell you, dealing with irate customers is one of the most taxing parts of the job. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, would YOU be happy if you had to take valuable time out of your day to call someone to fix a problem? It's no wonder that many customers are emotionally charged by the time you get on the phone with them.
Try out your own system sometimes – you might be surprised! Are you customer friendly or are you difficult to do business with? It's always important to remember that the customer is upset about the issue they need resolved, not with you. However, at the end of the day, you are responsible for taking charge of the conflict resolution in a calm and collected manner to make sure that the customer walks away satisfied. Read on as we share five tips for effectively dealing with difficult customers.
Stay calm; remain diplomatic and polite. If a customer is reaching out to you, they most likely need an issue resolved and may be upset. It's important to keep a level head in these situations and focus on resolving the customer's problem in a calm and focused manner. Don't take it personally if the customer seems upset with you. They are frustrated with the dilemma they are facing and you need to be the person responsible for resolving the problem. Don't get emotional no matter how angry they seem with you, just focus on helping them to the best of your ability. Remember everyone is carrying a heavy burden and their issue may be bigger than the spark that has set them off.
Try to see things from the customer's point of view. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and try to imagine how they are feeling. Frustration, confusion, and anger are common emotions that customers with unresolved problems may be feeling. Listen empathetically and ask questions to ensure that you understand the nature of the problem and how it is affecting them. Use cushion statements and work to find points of agreement in order to let them know that you understand their problem and empathize with them.  
Use the customer's name. To quote Dale Carnegie, "Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." By repeating a customer's name during your interaction, you are demonstrating that you are listening to them and empathizing with their situation. Be careful not to overdo it though, too much repetition can come across as annoying or disingenuous.
Take ownership. Don't pass the buck, take responsibility for customer service issues that come your way and see them through until the end. Always show willingness to resolve the conflict and make sure the customer knows that you are committed to them. Be firm but understanding with your answers, always show confidence and demonstrate your ability to resolve their issue. If you do have to escalate the problem to a manager or different department, reinforce how important it is to you and your organization that the problem is resolved promptly.
Be genuine and show your personality. Don't use canned responses or you risk coming across as stiff or robotic. Bring a positive and a real part of yourself to customer service. Be personable and do your best to build rapport with the customer in need. By building common ground and finding areas of agreement, you will be able to build a relationship with the customer and keep them on your side while you assist them.
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