How to Deal With Difficult Customers
One of the best ways to turn a customer into a life-long shopper is your attitude. The way you make them feel whether it's paying attention to particular preferences or patiently helping them find exactly what they're looking for, has a huge influence on how often they'll come in and browse.
However, for every few dozen polite and pleasant customers you encounter, there could be one who might not have the most delightful attitude. While it's important to realize that you can't directly control anyone else's behavior, you can influence how someone responds to you to a certain degree. Here are five ways to handle tough customers and smooth over a potentially stressful interaction.
1: Remain Calm.
Stay in control of your own actions, and it'll be much harder for a customer to push your buttons. It's easy to lose potential or current shoppers if they feel like you're bored, irritated, displeased, or negative, so do your best to stay positive when customers are mad, complaining, or placing blame.
2: Let Them Vent.
Occasionally, you may encounter a frustrated customer whose actions actually have nothing to do with your store or your degree of service. What's the best course of action to take in this situation? Tune in to what he or she is saying; this person may simply want to be listened to, acknowledged, and understood.
According to a white paper titled, "What to Say to a Porcupine: Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers", by technology help desk expert Parature, the playback technique can help frustrated customers feel respected. By repeating a piece of a statement they've already expressed back to them, this type of phrasing shows the other person that you understand exactly what his or her frustration is. The phase "Because you did X, I'm going to Y" is a good example of using the playback method.
3: If You Can't Solve the Issue, Find Someone Who Can.
Let's say the customer's conundrum is not exactly your area of expertise, nor is it directly your responsibility. Before a solution is offered that's not a 100% guarantee, ask the customer how he or she would like the issue to be resolved and use that as a starting point toward compromise. Then, gather all of the information you can before seeking someone to help you and your unhappy customer. Both of these actions will help you from making promises you can't keep.
4: Don't Take It Personally.
Occasionally, we all have bad days. Maybe the customer who is a tad on the grumpy side was late to work this morning, is stressed out from a situation at home, or is having a string of bad luck. A calming demeanor may not only make you feel good, but it could cheer someone else up too.
One tactic to help you handle a difficult customer is to assume everyone is watching. An unruly shopper can require a lot of concentration, so to stay focused, try pretending that an audience is watching the entire interaction. This can also help provide a bit of an emotional buffer if a few unpleasant comments are spoken or if the customer continues to remain less than friendly.
5: Know When to Give In.
Sometimes - no matter how hard you try - a resolution just can't be reached, and the situation cannot be smoothed over. If you're dealing with a customer who requires more time than you can spare and still won't try to see your side of things, it might help to see if you can tilt the final solution a bit more in his or her favor.
Next, always follow up if you promise something. Even if you don't have all of the answers by the time you promised, the customer will appreciate a follow-up to know that you're still working on his or her request. This will help all customers feel important and reassured that their ideas, comments, and opinions are valued.