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#Business Owners/Entrepreneurs have to deal with difficult customers/clients as part of their roles but it’s never an easy task. The old saying goes ‘The customer is always right’, however this is not necessarily true as your customers can certainly be or are very much in the wrong, but ‘the customer will always be customer’. Irrespective of whether he/she is right or wrong, the status as customer (and source of your livelihood) dictates that you communicate effectively and efficiently with them.
One of the most challenging/difficult things to deal with in business is the handling of heady/stubborn customers, who are almost never satisfied and those that will always change the game as the relationship progresses. They create the kinds of situations that easily place a business owner on the defensive, which leads to much less effective communication. When customers are never satisfied, it is only human for the business owner to lose motivation in dealing with them. However, no business owner can afford to lose customers, so you have to learn how to handle such conflicts with tact and care.
Here are a few different types of angry customers and how to deal with them as a business owner.
Difficult customers come in different varieties including:
Tips on how to deal with them:
True listening is fast becoming a disappearing act in this age, however you’ll need it so as to communicate effectively with a difficult customer. Though an ear is only the organ that delivers sound waves to the brain, a good listener also engages his/her heart and mind alongside. He does not allow himself to become distracted, but focuses on the speaker. A good listener doesn’t formulate answers before the speaker completes a statement and doesn’t give the appearance of being defensive.
Empathy will go much further toward achieving your goals rather than offering sympathy alone to someone who is having problem. Put yourself in the customer’s place, wouldn’t you be disgruntled, angry, fearful and impatient if a product or service didn’t live up to your expectation? If it didn’t perform according to advertising or even caused some form of injury/damage?
It is important to accept what the customer says at face value whether or not he is wrong. The customer thinks he is right, therefore if he perceives that you accept and believe him, he will be more likely relax and get to the point. Most times strained relationships are as a result of saving the main bone of contention for the last. The customer will build up to his real issue by talking about the peripheral ones first thus allowing him to build a mountain of anger out of his molehill of frustration.
Respect they say is reciprocal therefore if a customer receives respect from you, he will likely return it. If he feels disrespected, it will be seen as a personal attack. Everyone deserves respect simply for being human and always remember that you can learn something from anybody, regardless of education level, financial situation or physical appearance.
If you successfully employ listening, empathizing, accepting and respecting, you would have prepared the ground for negotiating. You will have put the difficult person at ease and helped him believe you are in his corner. He will be better prepared to drop his aggression and enter into negotiations with the belief that you will treat him with fairness, honesty and integrity.
In conclusion, it is key to always try to resolve a customer’s issue with one conversation. The quicker the issue is resolved, the better the customer will feel about the interaction. Dealing with difficult customers can be challenging but if you handle the situation very well, you have a bright chance of improving your relationship with them thus creating further opportunities for your business to thrive/grow.