Sam Walton, the founder of one of the world’s largest retailers Walmart once said, “There is only one boss and he is none other than The Customer. He can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, by simply spending his money somewhere else.”
Be it in any business and in any niche, difficult customers are an everyday phenomenon. Customers may not be right. Sometimes, they may be blatantly wrong. Difficult customers are seldom satisfied with the services and crazy-making scenarios may place a sales person on the defensive. All the crazy-making scenarios should come under the regulatory radar of ‘Customer Service.’ Sales personnel should ideally master when to be hard and when to be soft in conflicting scenarios. Here are 3 strategies to work with a difficult customer:
- Accept that you are wrong even though you are right: Yes, the moment a difficult customer approaches you with a problem, have a pleasant smile and listen to his concerns. Accept that you are wrong even though you are right. Let me explain this with an example- My local Internet Service Provider effectively handles innumerable difficult customers. Here is an excerpt from one of his Customer Support Team’s conversations with a difficult customer named Chris:
Chris: Man! Your internet is pissing me off. Why is it always down?
Costumer Support Team: Extremely sorry for the inconvenience Sir. Can you please confirm your login credentials?
Chris: Ah! You want me to confirm my login credentials. Great! Worst customer support team! Can’t you do it out for yourself as you have my mobile number? Anyway, email@example.com and 9890909021.
Customer Support Team: Thanks for the confirmation Sir. Could you please do a bit of troubleshooting? We think, your cable wire is not tightly connected to the port. Please fix it tightly Sir.
Chris: Give me a minute…And yes! It’s perfectly working.
Customer Support Team: Thanks for your patience Sir. We are here to help you. Have a good day!
- Matter of urgency vs Matter of Security: Use your best judgement to understand if it is a matter of urgency or if it is a matter of security. If it is a matter of urgency, stay smart and act quickly. Suggest a few feasible alternatives. For example, if there is a gas leakage in your customer’s house, it is a matter of urgency. You have to suggest a few measures such as asking the customer to switch off his mobiles, open windows and doors etc. If it is a matter of security, be careful. For example, customers may approach you for their monthly payment bills. Your server may go down and financial transactions and fund transfers may not be consistent. This is a matter of security and hence, you have to be careful.
- Negotiate: Make your difficult customer believe that you are here to treat him with honesty, integrity and fairness. Negotiate with the difficult customer and end the conversation quickly. The quicker the conversation, the better is the customer satisfaction. Remember, never ever lose your patience while interacting with a difficult customer. On a lighter note, it is wise to keep in mind that difficult customers have the maturity of 5-year old kids….:)
Keep watching this space for informative stuff. Cheers!