The customer is always right
Okay, if you’ve spent enough time in the service industry, you’ve probably concluded that the customer is, in fact, not always right. Yet when it comes to difficult clients, there are better methods than simply blowing them off or turning them away. Instead, it’s important to engage with clients in a positive manner and strengthen the relationship.
Relationships are valuable, and people are people and sometimes, a difficult client is just having a bad day. Sometimes they have genuine grievances, but miscommunication is also common. Regardless, complaints can quickly devolve into emotional outbursts. Fact is, customer service can be challenging even for a calm, experienced professional. What’s important is staying calm and carrying on.
Customer and client service challenges can be difficult no matter the level of the client. It doesn’t matter if the customer is buying a cheap product off of an e-commerce store or is a high-value VIP account worth six figures or more per year, providing good customer service is vital, but often challenging.
It’s Okay to Be Human
Often, customer service reps try to purge all their emotions. Except, of course, this isn’t really possible. Instead, customer service reps bottle everything up. Seems like a wise idea but doing so can make it more difficult to understand emotional clients and can increase stress.
It’s okay to be human and it’s okay to have emotions, but you do have to exhibit them properly, especially when it comes to working with clients. Understand your own emotions, but also understand your client’s point of view. Try to be empathetic.
Also, remember that the only emotions you can truly control are your own. Sure, you can influence your clients, but you can’t force them to adopt certain emotions. While you should remember that you are human, you should also strive to keep calm and thus carry on.
Some tips for controlling your emotions:
• Take a deep breath. Controlled, deep breathing can help you maintain a steady, relaxed rhythm.
• Sit confidently. Slouching to relax may seem like a good idea, and maybe sometimes it is. However, it often helps to sit straight, with your shoulders back.
• Speak slowly and don’t let your speech be overwhelmed by your emotions. Calm speech on your part will often soothe your emotional clients.
Remember, Their Negative Emotions Are Rarely Personal
Most of the time, an upset client isn’t upset with you, but instead your company or outside circumstances. Sometimes, it won’t seem that way, often it will seem personal. Take a deep breath, however, and try not to take it personally. The client might have a genuine grievance with your company, or s/he might be having a bad day.
So, when a client is being difficult, remember that it’s often not being personally directed at you. By staying calm and using the aforementioned tips, you can often sooth your clients. As the conversation goes on, try to establish yourself as an ally, or at the very least, a listening, empathetic ear.
Consider making comments like:
– I understand your point of view and am working to understand your situation. I want to help you.
– I can see why this would be so stressful for you, let’s see how we can improve things.
Another good method is to say something like, “let me make sure I am interpreting this right” and then explain their point of view back to them. This way, your customers will know you are listening. If you are confused about something, don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure you frame them as part of an effort to really know your customers and their pains.
Weather the Storm
Sometimes a client simply can’t control themselves. They have an emotional outburst and there’s probably not a person alive who hasn’t been overwhelmed by his or her emotions at some point. When a client unloads, remember that we all fall short sometimes and try to put yourself in their shoes. Take those deep breaths, sit up straight and keep your mind as clear as possible while listening to your client.
Don’t judge your clients for their heat of the moment reactions. Try to emphasize with them again. If a client is having a really bad time, suggest a breather. Perhaps you can suggest that both parties step away for ten minutes while you look into their situation. Emotional outbursts are often followed by serenity. You might jump back on the case in ten minutes and find them much more amicable.
Focus on the Relationship and Build Empathy
Building a rapport with your client that is based on empathy can go a long way towards building a strong, sound relationship. Identify areas where you and your client are in agreement. Relate similar situations that you have experienced.
Show that you understand their point of view and recognize their grievances. Let them know that you personally want to improve their situation. A small dose of empathy can go a long way during emotionally turbulent times so make sure it’s the center of your efforts.
Stay Calm and Namaste
Client relationships can be difficult, especially when clients are emotionally overwhelmed. However, you have to be the lighthouse in the stormy sea guiding them to safe harbor. It can be difficult, but stay calm, take a deep breath, be empathetic, and carry on.
Fact is, adding your own stress and emotion to the conversation will rarely if ever produce positive results. On the other hand, being calm, reassuring and empathetic will often help you resolve even the most difficult of situations.