Dave Kahle is profiled in the upcoming book series “Superhuman Performance: Utilizing Your Gifts to Perform at Extraordinary Levels.” His Gifts of Writing and Teaching is helping improve performance of sales professionals nationwide…..
Check out his recent article “Nine Tips for Dealing with Angry and Difficult Customers.
Nine Tips for Dealing with Angry and Difficult Customers
By Dave Kahle
No one looks forward to an encounter with an angry or difficult customer. Most of us canâ€™t help but feel emotionally impacted by an upset customer. An ugly incident can ruin our entire day.
Not only that, but there is usually some damage that can be done to the company by the angry customer. Our job security is not enhanced when the company loses business. Put those two things together, and you can see that dealing effectively with an angry customer becomes a challenge that we must overcome.
Here are some tips to make your next confrontation easier for you, better for your company, and much more satisfying to the customer.
1. Donâ€™t take it personally.
Unless you were personally involved in the incident that caused the customerâ€™s anger, the customer probably isnâ€™t angry with you. Heâ€™s angry with your company, and heâ€™s angry with the consequences that impact him. There is no reason that you should take it personally. You are just the current expression of your company, the most convenient representative.
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When you take the customerâ€™s anger personally, itâ€™s so much easier to become defensive and argumentative. And when that happens, the net effect is to turn a bad situation into something even worse. When you are tempted to react in kind, emotionally, just tell yourself that this is not about you.
That is often enough to turn a customerâ€™s attitude around. It is amazing how powerful an empathetic, active listener can be. When you sincerely and actively listen, that calms the customer down, it shows him that you are interested, it gives some credence to his/her position, and, it gives you some information and time to think. A magic elixir!
If you were the customer, and this thing had happened to you, how would you feel? Wouldnâ€™t you also be upset?
Empathizing doesnâ€™t take much effort on your part, and it has a powerful impact on a tense situation. When you empathize with the customer by letting him know that you understand how he feels, you release much of the tension out of the situation. Picture a balloon that you have blown up almost to the point of bursting. There is tremendous tension inside the balloon pushing outward. But when you open the bottom, and let some of that pressure out, the balloon relaxes. Same thing when you empathize with the customer. Picture yourself letting air out of the bottom of that balloon.
This sometimes seems like too little, too late. Regardless, itâ€™s the minimum acceptable response. If your customer has been wronged, or thinks that he or she has been wronged, apologizing for your company is the least you can do. If you are afraid of admitting responsibility, then let the customer know that you are sorry this thing happened to him. Thatâ€™s generally enough to not accept any responsibility, and still convey a message of concern.
5. Donâ€™t blame.
No one cares who is at fault. No one really cares that so-and-so in inventory control didnâ€™t order enough inventory, or that the picking clerk incorrectly picked the order, or any one of a thousand other possible mistakes that other people may have made. Blaming someone emphasizes that you are more concerned with yourself than you are with making things right with the customer. It emphasizes the past (what happened), instead of the future (what you can do to fix this.)
Blame is the first response of a small person. Donâ€™t show yourself to be in that league by immediately jumping to blame someone.