How to manage a difficult customer?

Working with the public is also knowing how to deal with difficult customers. Even if you are not involved, these are key moments for your business: managing this type of situation can be an opportunity to show the quality of your customer service. Successful management is also the best way to preserve your brand image (online and offline) and your revenue.

Let the customer express themselves

Start by giving the customer space to express their frustration. Whether at the point of sale, in a restaurant, over the phone or by email, give him time and listen to what he wants to communicate to you. Resist the urge to instinctively solve the problem from the first seconds: write down the facts, as well as the negative feeling that resulted. Do not hesitate to apologize on behalf of the company for the dissatisfaction caused.

In some cases, the dissatisfaction of a difficult customer is not due to your actions: it can result from errors of a service provider or a delivery person who did not provide the promised service. Even if you think you are not directly at fault, show that your company assumes its responsibility, making it clear to you that your discontent is listened to and understood.

Adjust your point of view

Managing a dissatisfied customer sometimes involves changing one's point of view: when discontent is keen, one goes outside the context of normal business operations. Dealing with an unhappy customer may take longer than a typical customer, but it's also more important in the era of recommendation sites (TheFork, TripAdvisor, Foursquare ...). Remember that inflammatory reviews could have a catastrophic effect on your online reputation. Take a step aside, and put yourself in the customer's shoes. Try to understand the origin of his feelings. Empathy is a decisive quality in managing a dissatisfied customer: showing him or her that we are ready to act to get out of the crisis is the first step towards solving it.

Present a solution

Once the drivers of discontent have been identified, it is up to you to get out of the crisis by proposing a solution to the customer. This is first to search within the framework of the rules provided by your company. That said, if no solution is satisfactory, you may want to consider making an exception to these rules. You are responsible, after all ... Grant a voucher (for a beauty institute), a bottle of wine to accompany a dinner (for a restaurant) or an additional time to use a service (for an activity of leisure) can avoid a sharp criticism on social networks.

Showing the difficult customer that you are with him and not against him, bring listening and support and not be dominated by his emotions: these are the keys to appease a conflict situation and make it an opportunity to demonstrate the values of your company. In the age of the internet and social networks, managing a difficult customer is a challenge no business can take lightly.

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—    Mihika Iyer