Dealing With A Difficult Customer?

I love seeing great customer care live and in person. It gives me hope, as a consumer, that companies are being proactive to promote better customer relations.

Several days ago, I was able to see a great display of soft skills by a sales associate as she dealt with a very difficult customer. I was in my wireless carrier’s store picking up a couple of phone accessories. As I was completing my purchase, a lady entered the store and shouted she would like to speak to the store manager now. Apparently, the store manager was at lunch so a young sales associate walked over to woman and asked if she could help. The customer was visibly angry. She shouted “you guys are liars” and stated her bill was wrong again.

Because the customer kept shouting, employees and customers alike were focused on the situation. The sales associate was doing everything possible to keep the woman from exploding even more. Unfortunately, this customer was in no mood to be told to calm down. I watched the sales associate closely. She was poised. She listened and spoke to the customer in a soft and kind tone. She apologized for the problems, asked for clarity about the customer’s frustrations, and offered her personal assistance to solve the problem as best she could. I was very impressed that she was prepared for this kind of extreme customer situation.

Dealing With The Difficult CustomerAfter several minutes of this customer yelling, causing a scene, and embarrassing herself, the situation finally ended in a positive way. The sales associate never took the yelling and nastiness personal. Instead, she realized this customer needed special attention and took it upon herself to quickly respond. Steve Yastrow the author of the book We – The Ideal Customer Relationship says that “a policy designed to ensure that all customers get consistent service ensures that personalization will be blunted.”

Good thing the sales associate recognized this customer was different and therefore required deviation from “consistent service” for their customers. The sales associate explained the contract and the billing process clearly to her customer and asked the customer a very important question. Did I resolve all of your concerns? It was gratifying to see the sales associate take a “we are in this together” approach. She consistently communicated to the angry woman; I am your partner in this problem, so let’s work on it together.

Rigidity and inflexibility usually mean an end to customer satisfaction. When businesses are inflexible with their customers, you can bet that conflict will arise, customers will become frustrated, and ultimately will take their business elsewhere.

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About the Author

Eric Mead

Eric is A Senior Vice President for CMOE and specializes in custom learning and development solutions, sales and marketing, and performance coaching. His work in organization development has led him to facilitate workshops on Strategic Thinking, Coaching Skills, Building High Performance Teams, Managing Conflict, Personal Effectiveness, and Leadership Principles. Eric’s expertise is in communication, relationship building, management, marketing, and advertising.