How to Deal With Stressed Customers
Every business owner, store manager, and former retail worker can tell you how much of a headache can be generated from just one customer who refuses to calm down. Countless work hours and serious sums of money can be lost if a business’ handling of a rogue costumer is botched. So how should today’s aspiring entrepreneurs and pro-business managers prepare themselves for consumers who have crossed the line from angry to unreasonable?
Dealing with an overstressed customer is never easy, but it shouldn’t drive you or your employees to the edge of sanity. By following these tips, you can ensure your customers and employees alike make it home at the end of the day happy and satisfied with their shopping and working experiences.
Remember that we’re all human
Our basic interpersonal skills are the best tools to rely upon when trying to defuse conflict between a steamed customer and a hapless employee. Taking a moment to remember that we’re all human – and thus can all benefit from the same steps taken to calm down – can go a long way in the business world.
Sales professionals in particular should understand the importance of patience, good listening skills, and genuine empathy when dealing with a customer. Often, your business’ clients aren’t intending to ruin anyone’s day; they’ve merely had struggles of their own, and may be particularly stressed out and incapable of being patient or reasonable.
It thus falls upon your employees and managers to have positive, pacifying body language, maintain constant eye contact, and keep level-headed, soothing tones of voices as they try to resolve their customer’s issues. Imaging that you’re before an invisible audience is one way to make sure nothing crude escapes your lips, and that your posture and expressions are friendly and welcoming.
As Forbes points out, simple, human-based solutions like approaching the problem from the other person’s point of view can go a long way towards contributing to conflict resolution. Similarly, understanding that it’s sometimes okay to bend the rules to placate a particularly challenging customer can help issues be resolved succinctly.
Don’t pass the buck to lower employees
Business owners and managers should understand that they can’t expect their employees to handle the rage of an indignant customer alone. A company that takes steps to build structural support for angry customers and the employees trying to placate them alike is one that will be more successful and less stressful.
As the burden of dealing with angry customers often falls upon entry-level employees, its’ the responsibility of managers and business owners to ensure their own employees are comfortable in the workplace and effectively trained to deal with issues confronting them. Angry customers simply aren’t something that can be pushed off to your lower employees in hopes that the problem will then disappear.
Similarly, management officials should know that they’re the ones who have the authority to “give in” and let a customer have what they’re demanding – even and especially when they’re in the wrong. Rather than lose a customer for like, your business’ managers can alleviate their stress by offering them a discounted or even free product or service, and try to demonstrate to the aggrieved customer that your company really cares about their frustrations.
There are plenty of resources out there for managers, especially for those in retail, already. Yet all the advice or tips in the world won’t be of use if the employees and those responsible for their training and oversight are themselves incapable of empathetic responses to customer’s issues. Business owners shouldn’t be afraid to step in every once and a while to test how well their managers and employees handle potentially-explosive situations, and should be prepared to pony up the needed funds to properly train their workers.
At the end of a long work day, everybody just wants to get home in one piece. Help ensure your customers and employees alike avoid stressful catastrophes like fluctuating price of gold per ounce, by properly investing in your human capital, raising levels of workplace empathy, and designing a business plan that accommodates upset customers who may need a discount or other form of placation. Ignoring these tips and trying to strongarm your customers when they walk through the door might just blow up in your face.
A social media marketing executive and entrepreneur, Alex has led the marketing divisions of some of the UK's leading advertising and PR firms. He specializes in usng the power of big data and business analysis to deliver actionable metrics.
As head of social media strategy, Alex is directly responsible for the customer experience and...