While the majority of the people we deal with in business are good and love what we do, there are always a few bad apples and they can make the retailing business, whether on line or in person, miserable. Even if you deal with the service industries, such as tech support or graphic design, those problem customers can make you question why you’re even in business in the first place.
I’ve been in customer service for twenty years, starting at the obligatory waitress and fast food jobs when I was in high school, moving to other fields, all of which dealt with customer service skills to one extent or another. And now, as a business owner, oh yeah, I still get those customers. So here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years to help me to cope and even, sometimes, turn those problem customers around.
1. First, set a good example. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. In a frustrating situation with your cable provider? Take a deep breath before calling and remember that person on the other end of the phone is in the same space as you. Even if you can tell that it’s an outsourced job, don’t take your anger out on the person. Take actions, like switching providers or writing to the company, to make your upset heard.
2. Kill ‘em with kindness. Be nice. Not sachharine sweet, but really nice and empathetic. Often times, they’ll realize they can’t get you to yell back or escalate and will settle down. And if they don’t…
3. Don’t escalate. You may want to yell at them. Or that customer who says “well I can get this at such and such place”, tell them “then shop there!”. Don’t give in. Be deadpan if you have to, but be professional and do not give into the anger and fighting that the other person wants.
4. Don’t invest yourself. I love #2. It usually helps. And when it doesn’t, you know what, that’s their fault. I’ll be professional and be polite, but I won’t go out of my way for them. I also figure if they won’t soften with kindness, then that’s their problem. I won’t say that I stop being kind, but I also go into “smile and nod” mode where frankly, I’m done with ‘em.
5. Focus on the good customers. Be grateful for the positive experiences you have. Be thankful. Thank the customers. Smile at them. That positivity will be rewarded.
It can be tough dealing with problem customers, but rest assured everyone has to do it. The ways in which you do deal with problem customers will also reflect in how many repeat GOOD customers you get. Because the kindness and professionalism carries over into all aspects of your business.