Irritate one customer and they’ll tell a hundred people about their bad experience, but deal with them correctly and they will become a loyal and happy customer. Here are eight fool-proof steps to properly dealing with an unhappy customer.

  1. LISTEN – The absolute first thing to remember in dealing with a customer’s complaint is to listen. Don’t interrupt, just let them talk. We all want to think that people are paying attention to our needs, so pay attention and let them talk their frustrations out. Often, just letting them vent their frustrations is enough to defuse an angry customer. Sometimes, if you let them talk and explain their frustration, they end up actually switching sides and start defending you.
  2. ASK QUESTIONS – Questions help you get to the real problem and not just the one they called you with. By asking questions you accomplish two things: (a) you are able to clarify the areas of concern, and insure that you are both talking about the same thing, and (b) you demonstrate that you care about the customer and the problem.
  3. VALIDATE THEIR FRUSTRATIONS – Let them know that you understand why they are frustrated, and that you care about eliminating their frustration. Don’t ever try to make excuses. Always acknowledge how upsetting the situation can be and assure your customers that you want to provide them relief as quickly as possible.
  4. SEEK RESOLUTION – Ask them how they would like the situation resolved. They may not want what you think they want. Yes, it is true that sometimes what they want is unrealistic, but try to accommodate their desires as much as possible. Doing a little extra to resolve the situation will go a long way towards satisfying the customer and winning their continued support.
  5. PAUSE BEFORE SPEAKING – Always pause before you respond, that pause indicates that you are thinking about what they have said and that you are formulating an appropriate response, not just rattling off some stock answer that you tell everyone.
  6. DON’T PASS THE BUCK - Whoever gets the irate customer first should have as much authority as possible to resolve customer disputes. No one wants to be on hold while you “talk with your supervisor,” or “see what you can do,” or be passed around. Let their first point of contact be their last.
  7. ACT QUICKLY – No one wants to wait hours or even days for some sort of resolution. When you make the customer wait, you are adding to the frustration and the problem, not resolving it.
  8. SMILE - Let them be the grump, you be the ray of sunshine that is taking care of their problem. Be pleasant. Their problem may seem insignificant or irrational, but it is serious to your customers. Respect that concern and behave accordingly.

Remember the old saying, “The customer is always right.” Well, the customer is not always right—but they are always the customer.

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Copyright: The Business Performance Group, Inc.
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