Facing the Music

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How to tackle those things that you’d rather avoid but are good for business

We’ve all been plagued by procrastination and for some, it’s a chronic problem. But the tasks that get pushed to the backburner often result in wasted time and missed opportunities.

One of those tasks is creating harmony with difficult customers. While it may seem easier to just ignore the problem, the proper approach can result in superior customer service, turning unhappy customers into your greatest allies.

Here are some steps to improve your customer experience:

  1. Listen, don’t react – More time should be spent listening to customers than responding to them. This rule applies to all customers, satisfied or not, but it’s critical when a customer becomes upset. Customers respond better if given the opportunity to express themselves.
  2. Pinpoint the problem – Don’t point fingers, lie, or make excuses. Even if you have a good defense, resist the impulse to use it. And never, ever, let a customer know you are angry. Remain calm and professional when dealing with every one of your customers. Find out what the real root of the problem is by putting personal feelings aside.
  3. Resolve the problem – Now it’s time to fix the problem. Make sure the customer agrees that you have correctly identified the problem before you take steps to resolve it. Then outline the corrective actions you plan to take.
  4. Outline your response – A good rule of thumb is to outline up to three actions you plan to take, starting with the most immediate action. This assures the customer that you are taking their concerns seriously and plan to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.
  5. Follow up – Make sure to keep the customer updated on the actions you have taken to resolve the problem. While presenting them an action plan for resolution may help alleviate some concerns, it is important they know you have followed through on the plan.
  6. Know where to draw the line – Make a stand without saying “no”. Tell the customer what you can do and what they can do. The situation may come to a point where you either can’t or shouldn’t keep trying to pacify a really difficult customer. Some customers will continue to argue or threaten to take their business to a competitor if you don’t meet their demands. This is where you must use discretion. Sometimes it is better to sacrifice the sale than to compromise policies, waste valuable time and spend energy trying to remedy an impossible situation.

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