A large part of running a business involves managing the expectations, behaviours and attitudes of your customers. Even the most experienced professional can be faced with challenging clients. Difficult customers take many shapes. There are the over-demanding ones, the unreasonable sorts, the ridiculous expectations type, or the just plain rude. But – no matter what, you must still serve them.
Because at the end of the day, they are your customer, difficult or not, you still need to serve them, with the utmost respect and professionalism. After all, the name is on the can – customer service. Now this does not mean anyone should put up with rudeness or abuse – there is never room for that. What we are talking about here is, difficult customers, that is very far removed from rude.
Here’s another reason why – Word. Of. Mouth. Think about this – 9 people will hear of good customer service. But – 22 people will hear of an unhappy experience!
And even more mind boggling – 80% of us think we are delivering superior customer service. But the reality is quite sobering – only 8% of people think these same companies deliver superior customer service!
So – GET IT RIGHT! Especially with the difficult customers. They will talk! Dealing with Difficult Customers Training is crucial for business survival in this day and age. Remember the Word of Mouth – well, social media absolutely skyrockets the process. Digital Word of Mouth is either your friend or enemy. So, again – get it right! Here is a start. 6 Steps to Dealing with Difficult Customers. Study it and do it.
Remember the old adage – prevention is better than cure? Well if we prevent our potentially difficult customers from reaching their tether, we are already a step ahead. In the case of your clients , this can be achieved through continuous communication.
Talking to your customer (over the phone – not just email) on a regular basis will establish the all-important Emotional Contract. It also strengthens the customer relationship. A little extra effort can go a long way in making customers feel special. After all, they are! And consequently, your customer is much more likely to talk to you sensibly if they have a problem, rather than with burning rage.
And remember to use positive words, even when you are thinking the complete opposite. Change your mindset to see humour in difficult people – it will change the way you react to them. But at the core – always be polite.
2. PREPARATION PREVENTS POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
Make sure a Customer Plan is in place to illustrate what you are working on for your client. Keep it update regularly and add to it every action and dealing. Going through it at customer meetings helps maintain focus and shows your customer they are always front of mind. It is also a great reference point should a problem email@example.com
3. BE ON THE SAME PAGE AS YOU CUSTOMER
To avoid clients adding extras to a project, and expecting them at no additional cost, put together a detailed proposal at the very beginning – and add it to your Customer Plan. This will outline exactly what the client can expect to receive from their investment in you. Going forward, it also acts as a reference document if a tricky client disputes who is or was responsible for a certain action. Accountability starts with documentation.
4. CONFIDENCE IS KEY
You may have a customer who is highly-demanding, and has a very defined concept of what they want from you, despite what you are trying to explain to them. If you are certain their idea would be detrimental to their business objectives, have the confidence to (respectfully) tell them this and explain exactly why it would not work.
Do not be afraid to use past experiences to illustrate your point. Remember, if it is in your Customer Plan, you can refer back to it anytime.
5. THE IMPORTANCE OF CHOICE
Difficult customers are usually even more awkward if the proposed solution doesn’t suit their requirements. The sooner you can come up with the right one, the quicker the situation can be resolved.
When presenting new ideas, give your customers options on how to proceed. If you only present them with one path, and they are not comfortable with it, it will only increase their frustration and put more strain on the customer relationship.
6. KNOWING WHEN TO CALL IT
Manage expectations and be polite about it, but if the client is simply unpleasable, you may need to consider parting company. If they are proving to be so difficult it is causing you unnecessary stress and little return, it may come to a stage where you need to break the relationship.
Try to do so without burning any bridges, in a professional and polite manner. Customer-Supplier relationships always work best when both parties are benefitting from the collaboration – if it’s not working for either party, there is little point continuing as you’d both be better working with other clients – and it’s worth reminding your customer of this, politely.
Dealing with Difficult Customers Training is customised to our client’s needs and is currently being rolled out by SPARKLE TRAINING virtually and in-person. To sharpen your team’s learning and to get their communication back on track in a post-COVID environment, contact SPARKLE TRAINING on 1300 611 288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to secure a spot.