Building Resilience to Handle Even the Most Difficult Customers by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Even the most composed professionals can lose their composure when it comes to handling irate customers. It’s fairly normal for leaders to put off making those calls we know are likely to end in an unhappy customer. Even worse is being blindsided by an incoming call friratecustomerom a customer who is already worked up.

This is another area that requires resilience. Business owners and managers cannot afford to avoid talking to unhappy customers. It is always important to try and make customers happy, but there will also be times when the customer simply cannot have what he or she wants. Here are some tips to make dealing with difficult customers a little easier.

1. Know the facts. Go into any conversation with an irate customer armed with the facts, as much as possible. If a customer calls in and you need time to get the facts, it may be better to set an appointment to call the customer back. If you must do so, be diligent about keeping that appointment.

2. Hear the customer out. In many cases, the customer just wants to be heard. If you are so busy trying to explain the “policy” to them that they don’t get to vent, you’ll have little success in turning them around.

3. Remain calm. In no case is it permissible for you to show your frustration. Doing so will only escalate the situation.

4. Offer a solution. If you can’t give the customer exactly what he wants, offer a solution that meets the customer halfway whenever possible. This will go a long way toward keeping the customer on the books.

5. Know when to say when. There are some people who just can’t be made happy. These are rare, but it’s important to know when you’ve met one. Sometimes, it is best to part ways amicably rather than continue to deal with someone who is completely unreasonable.

Every business will have irate customers. Dealing with them can be one of the worst parts of your job. However, turning one around into a happy customer can be one of the most rewarding parts, too.