Dealing with a difficult or angry customer can be tricky, yet it is a common occurrence in the customer service industry. And because it happens so often, customer service employees and agents need to be prepared to deal with such customers. In this post, we discuss 7 proven tips to help you deal with difficult customers while doing your job effectively!
Dealing with a Difficult Customer? Try These 7 Tips
Quite often customer service teams are not trained specifically to deal with angry or difficult customers. This can lead to conflicts and the loss of a potentially valuable customer. For this reason, it is important to practice the below tips so you are better equipped to work with disgruntled clients.
1. Adopt Active and Reflective Listening
The first step to dealing with an angry customer is identifying the issue. And to do so, you need to listen carefully. Listen to your customer actively to identify what their concern is so you can find the appropriate solution. Another tactic is reflective listening where you pay attention to what the other is saying and then respond by reflecting the thoughts and feelings heard. For example:
Customer: “I’m annoyed because your service has the features we need but does not fit our budget.”
Agent: “What I understand is that your budget is limited and we are not offering you any discounts or promotions that fit your requirement.” Or, “Tell me more so that I can understand better and find the right solution for you.”
When you are practicing reflective listening, be careful not to promise a definitive solution to the problem. For issues such as pricing, you will need to check with supervisors and managers before you give the customer exactly what they need. But when interacting with the difficult customer, you must focus on listening and identifying the issue while making them feel heard.
2. Keep Calm and Focus on the Process
It is easy in a hostile situation to lose your calm (even slightly) and get nervous. However, remember that conflict and disagreement are common in business. But how you respond to conflict is essential because it determines your relationships with your employers as well as your customers.
Even in the heat of the moment, make an attempt to treat your customers with respect and consideration. Lower your voice, take deep breaths, and maintain a professional tone. Additionally, try to resolve disputes while over the phone. And ask for help, if you need it.
3. Try to Genuinely Empathize with the Customer
Besides listening to the difficult customer, try to empathize with them. Call them by their name, instead of “sir” or “ma’am.” Pull up their customer records so that you know their history with the company. Make them feel heard and valued and treat them as an individual person as opposed to just another customer. This can go a long way in calming the customer down and arriving at a solution.
4. Use Support Resources
Most businesses should have some kind of knowledge base or support center that agents and employees can use when dealing with customers. If your company does not have one, it may be helpful to suggest it. This knowledgebase can help you:
- Walk customers through common processes
- De-escalate conflict with useful strategies
- Set up audio/video recording
- Get help from a fellow employee or supervisor
5. Demonstrate That You Are Taking Their Issue Seriously
Provide realistic solutions and avoid sounding monotonous. If you are repeating a script that you use with other customers without personalizing it, the customer will recognize this and become even more agitated. You need to demonstrate that you are taking their case seriously without simply saying it.
6. Don’t Take it Personally
This is hard to do when certain customers target their anger towards you instead of the issue they are facing. However, remember that this is not a personal problem. At the end of the day, the customer does not know who you are. And since you are the only way they can interact with the company, their anger is targeted towards you. Avoid taking it personally and attacking the customer back. Instead, apply the above tips to diffuse the tension.
7. Follow Up and Ask for Help, if Needed
Finally, if the problem is above your paygrade or the interaction gets too intense, then it may be prudent to ask a co-worker or manager for help. Let the angry customer know that you will contact them again with a solution or to follow up, and make sure that you do.
Dealing with Difficult Customers Can Be Hard, But Not Impossible
Different customers will require different methods of interaction. Use your discretion but learn from mistakes. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for help from managers and bosses who may be able to offer additional options for handling tricky situations properly.