Nobody likes dealing with angry customers. But if you work in customer service, it’s part of your job.
Here are four tips that make talking to angry customers easier.
Remember that customers aren’t always right
No. The old saying isn’t true – customers aren’t always right. But they are always customers. Without them, you wouldn’t be in business. So treat all customers respectfully, even when they’re wrong. Never say “you’re wrong,” “that’s wrong” or “you’ve made a mistake.” Words like this trigger a shame reaction – which many customers deal with by becoming angry. Instead say “I’m sorry you got that impression,” “I’ll talk you through what happened” or “I’d like to clarify something.” Quickly move on to solving the problem, rather than dwelling on what caused it.
Chris and Ross are furious. They’ve both applied for the team leader role. But the job has been given to Brett.
Brett is the youngest member of the team. To Chris and Ross, this means he wasn’t entitled to a promotion. Rather than expressing their anger openly, they resort to passive aggressive tactics. These include deliberately making mistakes, pretending to forget important deadlines and muttering ‘care factor zero’ when Brett talks to the team.
Terence was furious. He’d just received another abrupt, demanding email from his colleague, Tamara. He was fed up with her tone.
Terence came to me for advice on how to handle Tamara. Over three coaching sessions, he learned how to manage her behaviour professionally and assertively. Here are the steps Terence used to request that Tamara change her ways. You can use the same steps to handle colleagues who send rude emails.
Meredith was a Human Resources consultant. She was passionate about supporting her clients. But this meant that she often said ‘yes’ to work she had little time to do. She was working long and starting to feel burnt out.
Meredith was taking on some projects to keep her clients happy, even though those projects fell outside her core area of expertise. This meant she was working excessive hours in order to master them. It was time Meredith started saying ‘no’ to these projects. She came to one of my communication skills training sessions. Here are some of the ideas Meredith picked up. You can use the same principles to say no to time-wasting tasks in your job, too.
Although Trish was an auditor, her question was one many professionals ask. Doctors, lawyers and Human Resources practitioners are just three examples of people who regularly need to deliver unpopular messages. Does your work involve breaking bad news or giving critical feedback? Then you’ll be interested in the advice we gave Trish’s team in their custom-designed training program.
If you want better results with people, learning how to build rapport can reap great results. Take Craig, for example. He was a freelance IT consultant who wanted help in getting on with his clients. Craig had difficulty managing his clients’ expectations. For example, he was frequently irritated by clients who ‘couldn’t’ describe what they wanted. What he wasn’t acknowledging was that people who could outline their needs accurately probably wouldn’t need his services in the first place!
Yes, reading a rude email can push your buttons. But before you hit ‘reply’ remember that this is your chance to look good. Remember the power of the written word and keep your reply calm, cool and collected with these tips.
Finding it difficult to turn people down? Here’s how to say no when you need to.
The direct no
You may sometimes feel you need to explain why you’re saying no. The problem is, explanations are often heard as excuses. For some people, your excuse is an opportunity to persuade you to say ‘yes’.
A direct approach is often needed. And some ways of saying ‘no’ work better than others. Saying ‘I can’t/won’t’ gets straight to the point but the most likely instant response will be ‘why not?’ Before you know it, you’re in explanation territory again.
Negotiation can be challenging, particularly in a conflict situation. Using FAST principles will help you keep the conversation in ‘okay’ mode.
Focus on one issue at a time
Difficult negotiations can be derailed by side issues. So you need to focus and keep the conversation focussed on one thing at a time. Sometimes, during conflict, the other person deliberately tries to take the conversation off-track. But you can prevent diversions by identifying the key issue which needs to be resolved.