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Dealing with Difficult Customers: Best Practices for Addressing Customer Complaints

Posted on May 19, 2008 by Archives

We all know it is easy to get along with people you know, like, work well with, and have things in common with, but when it comes customers, sooner or later, we all encounter that difficult patron. That difficult customer could be any of the following: a complainer, picky, frustrated, irate, or just plain angry.

Circumstances that Lead to Complaints

We get our fair share of angry customers. For the majority of cases, there has been some type of error on the customer’s side, such as ordering the wrong product or entering the wrong address; sometimes, it is our fault. At times, it seems impossible to please an angry customer; they expect us to do something that does not make sense for the company and goes against our policies. But to them it makes sense, because they are looking at it from an emotional perspective instead of from a business aspect.

If an error occurred on our part, we are always more than happy to help the customer and fix the error we made. When the customer is at fault, it can become a little more difficult. While we want to provide great service and help the customer, we have certain polices in place to ensure that the least amount of money is lost and that all processes are correctly documented.

Tactics for Dealing with Difficult Customers

What we have found in our customer service department is that the best way to approach the angry customer, is to treat the problem as an opportunity. Below are a few tactics we use when talking with our customers that may fall in to the category we are discussing.

Empathy - We try putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, so that we can get a better understanding of their perspective. By letting them explain their situation, even more than one time, they know you care, understand, and are listening to them.  Which we are, but if the customer service representative is not genuine about it, the customer will know.

Respect - Any customer service rep that has been in the field long enough will know that it is difficult to respect an angry customer who is yelling at you. Most of the time, the anger is not towards the rep directly, but they are upset about their situation and we are the person they get to take their frustration out on. Staying calm sends a message to the customer you have respect for them.

Know how to Apologize - Sometimes customers just want to hear and know that you are apologetic about their situation, even if it isn’t your fault directly.  Offering an apology regardless of what you can do about the situation will often alleviate some of the stress the customer is feeling.

Take Responsibility - If the error is one made by the merchant; we always take full responsibility and assist the customer so that their problem is solved.

Having to talk and respond to angry customers can at times be stressful. When those customers are over demanding and unreasonable, it can be very hard to deliver great customer service. If you equip your customer service reps with the right tools necessary to handle the upset customers, they are more than likely going to arrive at positive solutions and the customer may return in the future because of the way the problem was handled.



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