Anyone who has been in business for any length of time has run into at least one difficult customer. While the customer should always be right there will be the few that are impossible to please. Learning how to deal with this person is important to the company as well as your well being. If you don’t have your own approach, here are some ideas to think about.
The term “reframe” is a good one to use when found in a conflict. What this means is to look at the person and situation differently to gain a new and perhaps better perspective. Are there any indications what may have brought them to their demeanor? If they are upset, is it with you, the product or service or the experience they are having? Try and understand what got them there. Perhaps they are just having a bad day. Once you’ve reframed the situation it should help you to have more empathy with the individual opening up communications and a more constructive discussion. This goes along with what Stephen Covey says in his 7 Habits book to “Seek first to understand and then to be understood”.
Once the customer sees that you are truly interested in their problem they will be more likely to soften their tone and work with you.
As discussions take place about the issue, don’t let the customer control you or your feelings. Stay in control of your words and reactions. Letting someone else use their bad mood to turn your day in a negative direction is giving them power over you. There is no need to get into that position. Better decisions will be made for the customer as well as your company.
Depending on the nature of what has made the customer unhappy, there may come a point where it will be necessary to cut your losses. If no agreement can be reached that is satisfactory to both parties, at least agree to disagree and move on. You may lose some business, but giving in can end up being more costly.
Finally, be sure to train staff on the techniques that you approve. Empower them to make decisions but also to know where additional help can be found.
Ted Saul is a business coach and writer that assist with Business Plans and Project Management. He holds a master certificate in project management and has earned his MBA from Regis University. Ted can be reached on LinkedIn, TedS787 on Twitter or emailing Ted@tsaul.com.