We’re all heard the saying ‘The customer is always right’, but is that true? Well, it can’t be true because in fact the customer can often be wrong.
However, what IS true is that ‘The customer is always the customer’; and regardless of the fact that he might be blatantly wrong, he is still your customer. As such, he’s the source of your livelihood, and this determines how you should communicate with him in an effective manner.
So, how do you overcome the personality differences and anger that often lead to friction? This is such a great question, because it’s something that everyone who deals with the public should learn. The simple truth is that it’s all about perception: the most common reason a customer will leave and go to your competitor is his perception of your behavior and interactions with him, and how he ultimately feels about them.
This article is dedicated to providing suggestions on some effective communication skills to smooth over difficult situations and problematic conversations –
Tip 1: Effective Listening
The art of really listening is a disappearing skill in our culture today; and yes, effective listening is a true skill, one that very few people actually practice. If you, as the service provider, want to be able to communicate effectively with a customer, but in particular with a difficult or unhappy customer, it’s imperative that you learn how to listen effectively.
A good listener not only engages his ear for listening; he also engages his mind and his heart. He gives his undivided attention to the speaker and refuses to become distracted; he doesn’t formulate answers even before the speaker has finished his statement, and he certainly doesn’t act defensive.
Tip 2: Be Empathetic
Offering sympathy to someone experiencing difficulties is of course very normal, but empathy is much more effective in achieving your goals. If you were the customer, wouldn’t you feel angry, disgruntled, and maybe even fearful if a service or product didn’t live up to its expectations? Maybe it caused an injury or some type of damage, or it just didn’t perform according to the advertising.
Tip 3: Accept What the Customer Says
Even if you think (know) that what the customer is saying is wrong, accept what they say at face value. Remember, this is all about perception, and he thinks he is right. When he understands that you believe and accept him, he’ll be much more likely to relax and get to the point of his complaint.
What we do know is that, when interactions are strained, the main bone of contention is saved for last; meaning that the complainant will build his story by talking about all the peripheral points first, thus allowing him to create an enormous amount of anger out of his frustration.
Tip 4: Always Be Respectful
Your unhappy customer will most likely give you respect, if and when he receives respect from you. On the other hand, when he feels disrespected he will automatically perceive your attitude as a personal attack on him.
When it comes to customer service there’s always something to learn, regardless of the person’s financial situation, education level, or physical appearance. Don’t we all deserve respect, simply because we’re human?
Tip 5: It’s All About Negotiating
When you employ all the above, you’ve very neatly paved the way for negotiating. Your unhappy or disgruntled customer is now relaxed and he understands that you’re prepared to help him. He’ll quickly drop his aggression and be prepared to negotiate because he understands that you will treat him with honestly, fairness, and integrity.
Our best advice when dealing with customer’s issues or complaints is to try and resolve their problems with only one conversation. Your customer will feel happier with the whole interaction the quicker their complaint is resolved. This is what great customer service is all about.