An unsatisfied customer can quickly become problematic. As a business, it’s not uncommon to have to deal with complicated situations, it’s part of the game. But having people who are not happy is not the end of the world. It can even be beneficial to your business if you know how to manage difficult customers.
An angry user can turn into your best ambassador with a good customer relationship. Concretely, what does that mean? How to best manage difficult customers? Discover our guide.
9 tips to handle difficult customers
01. Create an action plan
Before starting the discussion, you need to establish an action plan. Having a strategy in mind helps you start the process more calmly. You must anticipate the different situations and know how to react for each of them. Here are the things to expect:
- Who manages the situation in case of escalation? Who makes the decision?
- Do you have someone on your team who specializes in dealing with difficult customers?
- What can you offer your disgruntled customers to restore the situation?
- Prepare questions that may be asked to provide immediate answers.
For more efficiency, you can also learn from successful cases. We explain: take examples around you (complaints on Facebook that have ended well) or draw on your experience to find out what works. Repeat the same formulations and the same approaches to create predefined messages. Be careful, these models are not to be used as they are, they are sources of inspiration that you must then modulate according to the situation. Sometimes you motivate your sales team to handle them. They give you direction and help you react quickly. The rest of the work must be done on a case-by-case basis.
02. Listen and understand
What is more frustrating than expressing discontent while having the impression of talking to a wall? More than hearing from your customers, you must listen to them. It means being attentive to their problem. Not only will you ease the situation, but you can learn a lot about your business and how to improve it. As an agent, you have the power to set the tone of the conversation. Remind them (and remember) that you are there to help them.
The second step is to understand your users. Have they tried to join you without success? Did they have a bad experience with your offer? Do they want compensation from you? You must identify what they expect from you and why they contacted you. For that, try to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. It’s a bit cliche it’s true, but it’s still the best way to find out what’s the right answer.
03. Answering the right moment
It is a sensitive point because difficult to determine. When you open a complaint, your instinct is either to respond immediately or to run away. It turns out that neither of these two solutions is the right one. If you answer on the spot, you will probably face a user still angry. But if you wait, your client may feel abandoned.
The platform you use will play an important role in your response time. If it’s about social networks, it’s better to be fast. On the other hand, if your customer contacts you by email, you have a little more margin. In both cases, never respond impulsively. Stay calm and take the time to write a quality message. If you need another 10 minutes, it’s not a problem. Do not forget the point: to manage difficult customers, you must first understand them and give them an appropriate answer.
04. Customize the answers
If you want to annoy your customers, even more, there is nothing more effective than responding like a robot. The last thing to do is send a cold and generic message. It will make them feel that you are not listening, that you are not competent, or worse, that you do not care. As a small business, you should be close to your community and listen to their expectations. Take the time to make personalized messages (even if you have 50 times the same question). There are people behind computers, and your users need to know that. In addition to improving the satisfaction of your customers, it will lower the tone: in general, we dare much more excited in front of a screen in front of a real person.
05. Stay calm
What is your SLR when someone insults you? Insulting it in return is a (very) bad answer! You will not gain anything to annoy your customers. This can only damage the reputation of your business – whether you are right or wrong. Do your best to stay calm and respond with factual arguments. The best way to do this is to not take things personally. Nobody has against you, it is only your product or service that is questioned here.
Spending a day reading complaints and negative thoughts can be difficult for morale. You will need to take a step back: discuss with your manager or go out for a drink from time to time. Remember that in the customer relationship you have the power to reverse the situation. By remaining positive, understandable and attentive, you will turn any naughty dog into a sweet lamb.
06. Recognize the problem
Now that you know how to do it, let’s take a look at the answer itself. Always start by recognizing the difficulties of your users. You may have nothing to blame yourself for, or you may not be able to change the situation. In any case, your customers will be happy to know that you have listened to them. They made the effort to pick you up and expose you to their frustration. It deserves all your empathy. This is a first step in managing difficult customers.
07. Summarize the situation
Apart from recognizing that there is a problem, you must show that you have clearly identified and understood it. For that, repeat the question. You do not want to go into a monologue to find out that this is absolutely not what it is. It would be annoying for both parties. By clarifying things, you make sure you are on the right track and show your users your sincere desire to help. Repetition is a very powerful tool in terms of communication. In addition to putting cards on the table, it proves that you are 100% involved. Often, by doing this, you have already solved 50% of the problem.
08. Provide compensation
When you have released all your cards and nothing seems to be able to restore the situation, you still have a joker. Remember to offer compensation to your unsatisfied customers: a coupon, a free sample or a discount. Sometimes it is better to act to show good faith.
Be careful, it’s important to know when to give a little something. You will have people who will always seek a free service or product. And you will have others who will feel that you are trying to get rid of them. It is, therefore, a joker to use with the greatest care. Compensation is useful (and recommended) only if the situation cannot be restored with explanations and excuses or if you feel like you’re going around in circles.
09. Be transparent
In the end, all you want is to move the situation forward. To do this, explain the process. To better manage difficult customers, tell them what to expect: will they have to contact another service? Do they have to wait for an answer from you? You must be clear and transparent. The more you detail your response, the less complaints you will have in the future; leave to spend more time at the moment. And finally: reassure, reassure, reassure! Make sure that your customers understand that you are there for them that you will do everything in your power to help them. Is not it?