Dealing with Unhappy Customers
Turning a Challenge into an Opportunity
Turn dissatisfaction into satisfaction with these strategies.
One of Tim's most important clients has just walked into his office, unannounced. Tim stands up with a smile on his face, ready to greet him, when the dam bursts - his client explodes into an angry tirade because Tim's organization has failed to make a delivery on time.
Because of this, the client was unable to demonstrate a key product, which meant that he lost an important sale.
Tim does his best to reason with his client, but nothing he says helps the situation. The client only gets angrier, shouting accusations and spiraling further into a rage. Within a few minutes he walks out, vowing never to do business with Tim's organization again.
Many of us have to deal with angry or unhappy clients as part of our roles, and it's never easy. But if we know what to say and, more importantly, how to say it, we may be able to save the situation. In fact, we can even end up with a better relationship with our client than we had before.
In this article we'll explore how to deal with angry or difficult customers. We'll highlight specific tips and techniques that you can use to smooth things over, so that you can leave them feeling satisfied.
Step One: Adjust Your Mindset
Once you're aware that your client is unhappy then your first priority is to put yourself into a customer service mindset.
This means that you set aside any feelings you might have that the situation isn't your fault, or that your client has made a mistake, or that he or she is giving you unfair criticism.
All that matters is that you realize that your customer or client is upset, and that it's up to you to solve the problem. Adjust your mindset so that you're giving 100 percent of your focus to your client, and to the current situation.
Step Two: Listen Actively
The most important step in the whole of this process is listening actively to what your client or customer is saying - he wants to be heard, and to air his grievances.
Start the dialogue with a neutral statement, such as, "Let's go over what happened," or "Please tell me why you're upset." This subtly creates a partnership between you and your client, and lets him know that you're ready to listen.
Resist the temptation to try to solve the situation right away, or to jump to conclusions about what happened. Instead, let your client tell you his story. As he's talking, don't plan out what you're going to say when he's done - this isn't active listening!
Also, don't allow anything to interrupt this conversation. Give your client all of your attention.