Managing Conflict with Customers
In the perfect world, we never want to find ourselves in this situation, but the reality is that due to a number of scenarios, including…poor service, unreasonable expectations on both sides, mis-selling and the wrong behaviours exhibited, we can find ourselves in this situation. By following this guidance will make sure that you manage the situation correctly.
First of all, allow angry customers to talk and vent their frustration…try not to interrupt. If the conversation is not private, take them somewhere more private and away from fellow customers and employees.
Empathy is important, and while it’s wise not to interrupt, there may be a need to occasionally add a few short words to show that you are listening…I fully understand, I can see why you are are disappointed, etc.
Body language and tone is important. At this stage, don’t offer an opinion or disagree, listen carefully, and wait for your chance to respond.
Stay neutral and don’t react. The customer may be annoyed but allow them to voice their opinion. There may be a need occasionally, to interject and redirect the conversation, if you feel that it is going off track.
Choose your words carefully and try not to be categoric at this stage, instead use words like…perhaps, possibly, typically, etc.
Where possible, find areas of common ground where you can agree. An agreement will result in collaboration and cooperation.
Use silence to your advantage. Listen actively and wait for silence. Once your chance arrives, summarize, and work together to a solution.
Few Customers are unreasonable. They simply want to vent their frustrations. As you respond you may start by saying…I fully understand, let’s think how we can resolve this. etc.
The key then is to come up with an equitable solution and remembering two points…
Make sure that you give such great service up front that such conversations are few and far between. Finally, by solving the customers problem is highly likely to make the customer more loyal in the future!
And remember to examine the cause of the conflict to stop similar events from happening!
“Silence isn’t always agreement. Sometimes people no longer argue because they no longer care.” Joyce Rachelle