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Managing difficult consumers and situations

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Giulianna Boscardin

on 16 September 2016

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Transcript of Managing difficult consumers and situations

How to Manage Difficult Customers & Situations

Difficult Customer Situations

Empathy means putting yourself in the customer's shoes, letting him or her know that you understand not only the situation, but also how the situation makes customer feel.
Use active and reflective listening skills
(1) by making a statement that tells the person we understand the feeling, and
(2) by paraphrasing his or her words to show the person we understand the issue, while not necessarily agreeing with him or her.
Two ways in making Empathy
When dealing with difficult customers and situations, it is important to use the following strategies.
Customer Situations
Respond Professionaly

Recognize Underlying Factors
Whenever possible, use the customer’s name. This personalizes the conversation and makes it difficult for the customer to attack you.
Maintain a friendly manner. Show the customer respect, even in the face of disrespect. Demonstrate no reaction in the face of difficult behavior.
Use appropriate body language. Move closer to the customer and maintain eye contact. Listen for the unspoken message. Focus on subtleties in a caller’s voice—inflection, pacing, and the overall tension level.
Customers may act angry, upset, demanding,
impatient, abusive, and threatening for any
number of reasons. These behaviors occur as
a result of one or more negative feelings that
have been aroused in the situation.

Negative emotions, such as:
Underlying Factors
Is it important to try to reach a mutual agreement with the customer?
Consumer Situations
Ask questions

Give feedback

What are the strategies that have worked for you in the past when managing difficult to understand customers?
Be patient and concentrate
Speak slowly and distinctly
Be extra courteous
Avoid using slang or industry jargons
Speak in normal tone of voice
Reiterate what has been said
When it's Difficult To
Types of Difficult Customers:
"Long-Winded Caller"

People will monopolize another's time on the telephone.
Don’t think silence or giving short answers will work, under the assumption the caller will “get the hint.” On the phone, silence is like a vacuum—it demands to be filled. If you don’t respond, he or she will keep talking.
Do ask questions. Don’t be afraid to interrupt the rambler with a question. They won’t be offended as long as you appear interested in their response. Use their responses to begin moving toward a conclusion.
“Mr. Smith, I need to ask you three questions concerning. …”
“I understand you are having trouble understanding your billing statement. Let me take a few minutes to explain it.”
Set the course of the conversation:
Paraphrase: "I need to make sure I understand what you've said." Emphasize the key points and then shift to addressing just these points.
Reflect: Allow the caller to argue, disagree, or add to what you just said.
Close: Express appreciation for the caller’s time, mention any action you agreed on, and then end the call.
Use the “PRC” technique: Paraphrase, Reflect, Close

Callers often ramble because they are lonely and need someone to talk to.
When you talk to customers, you have two conflicting desires:
To create a positive image of your agency and
To get off the phone in a reasonable time frame.
You can , interrupt with a question, or give the caller feedback to show that you heard him or her, and then get on to business.
Budget time to listen.
Establish mutual time limits.
Patience: Give the extra minute or two.

To protect your agency’s reputation and image, use a good technique for closure, rather than being abrupt or rude. Summarize the conversation. Repeat action steps on which you agreed so both parties know what they are responsible for, and what comes next.
Learning Objectives
During this workshop participants will:

identify methods for diffusing customer anger or hostility.

develop strategies for handling difficult customers.

identify which verbal and non verbal messages exacerbate a difficult situation and which diffuse a difficult situation.
"Argumentative Customers"
Speak softly

Ask for their opinion

Take a break – don’t get drawn in
Concentrate on the points of the argument and list them for both of you to see. Deal with these points one at a time.

Take notes on the points of the argument.

Number each problem so that it can be addressed.
What are the strategies that have worked for you in the past when handling an argumentative customer?
" Verbally
Abusive Customer"
Remain calm

Let the customer know the consequences, calmly and objectively
Remember, the customer isn’t angry at you. The customer isn’t angry with you personally, but at the agency, the situation, or something else completely unrelated.
Talk quietly. If the customer is yelling, talk quietly so that he or she has to be quieter to hear you.
Talk at a normal pace. If you begin to talk quickly, it will only make matters worse.
Be direct. If the customer uses abusive language or makes threats, be direct. Address the client by name.

Let the customer know the consequences, calmly and objectively. “When you use this language, it makes it impossible for me or anyone to assist you. We’ll have to reschedule your appointment/postpone the resolution of this problem until we can talk about it rationally.”

Do you have set office policies for handling a threatening customer?

Are there company limits to what types of threats will be tolerated?

I’m frustrated
I’m powerless and a victim
I’m not important

I’m stupid
I’m incompetent
I’m guilty
" Threatening Customers"
Threats can be an attempt to intimidate you.
Keep calm and keep your responses focused on the issue at hand.
Try to avoid getting into a discussion of the threat. Lead the conversation back to the fundamental issue in dispute. Remind the customer that you are equally interested in finding an equitable solution. Offer to get a third party involved who can evaluate the problem and options.
Evaluate the customer’s ability to make good on the threat and decide what to do from there. Don’t overreact; however, there may be occasions when you fear, deep down, for your safety.

Advise the customer of the repercussions. Before the threats escalate, calmly advise the customer of the repercussions of the threats, of the fact that threats are taken seriously and treated seriously, and suggest that the customer may want to reconsider.
Terminate the contact. If the customer continues the threats, terminate the contact, document the threat, warn/alert the appropriate people (supervisor, reception staff, etc.), and, if necessary, contact the police.
"Hostile/Angry Customers"
An angry customer is not most likely not angry with you.
Take the anger personally
Blame the customer
Avoid blame
Dominate the conversation
Remain professional. Don’t be defensive. Maintain control of yourself and the situation by viewing it objectively.
Don’t listen to the personal attacks, untruths, etc.

"Hostile/Angry Customers"

Wait until their hostility peaks and then begins to cool.
Detach Yourself from the Customer’s Hostility.
Hostility Curve
Let the customer vent.
The fastest way to diffuse a customer’s anger is to let him or her blow off steam. Don’t interrupt.
Refocus the attention
by starting a
relevant point
Acknowledge the error.
Find out what will satisfy the customer.
“Kill ‘em with kindness.”
Resolve the problem within the customer’s timeframe (if possible), not yours.
Demonstrate that substantial efforts have been or will be taken to resolve the issue.
Ensure that all actions are actually taken—follow up!
= Say you are sorry. There is nothing like a sincere apology, delivered right away so that the customer knows you care.
= Expedite solutions. The faster you can fix the problem, the better.
= Respond to the customer. Remember, people are involved. Take the time to empathize. Be a listening ear.
= Victory to the customer. Build higher levels of customer satisfaction by giving more than what they expect.
= Implement improvements. Look at your processes and determine what caused the problem initially.
= Communicate results. Spread the word so that everyone can learn from what happened.
= Extend the outcome. Don’t stop working when the customer stops complaining.

Don’t be patronizing. Don’t talk down to the customer. Keep comments on a professional, adult level. Don’t use the phrase “of course”
Offer alternatives when you can. Don’t just say no, or “You have to.” Try to help the customer find solutions to the problem.
Explain why it can’t be done. Give details, but concentrate on the positive and don’t dwell on the negative. Instead of saying “I can’t help you,” say, “We can’t do that, but we can do this.”
Don’t quote policy. Don’t say, “Because it’s the law.” Give the customer some background and some explanation.
Saying “No”
Write a brief description of a situation you have experienced and would like to practice and get feedback on the other participants.
Avoid making excuses.
Eliminate negative phrases such as “You have to.” Instead of “I can’t do that. You have to talk to Bob,” say, “Let me see if I can transfer you to Bob, who is the one who can make that decision.”
Don’t mention other/similar complaints. “You know, a lot of people don’t like that law,” or “You know, our computer has been doing that a lot lately.”
Hostile/Angry Customers Strategy
-Sometimes you have to say no, but if you do it right, you can still get a “thank you” for your service.
What are the strategies that have worked for you in the past when handling an argumentative customer?
Giulianna Boscardin
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