When you run a business, you come in contact with all types of people and serve many different clients. It doesn’t matter whether you are a people person or not, you have to do it.
You are serving customers, selling products and services, exchanging money for value, receiving reviews on your business dealings and more.
Clients are, after all, human just like you with thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions. Since every action generates a reaction, the nature of business results in either negative or positive responses.
It’s natural to look for compliments, approval, and accolades from customers. Instead, we may encounter negative comments, frantic behaviors, anxious attitudes, and unhappy faces. However, we have to take the negatives in stride, deal with them wisely, and find prompt solutions.
A simple transaction can produce an emotional outcome. As entrepreneurs, we need to handle these situations with care to build long-term client relationships.
Dealing with angry and difficult clients
So what do you do when a client becomes dissatisfied? How should you manage angry and unhappy customers? Ideally, you want to calm the situation and provide a solution without compromising your reputation or the relationship?
Here are some tips you can use to smooth things over with clients in tough times:
1. Remain calm and composed
When a client is trying to communicate with you and share their problem, remain calm and composed. Give them a little time to vent. Don’t lose your temper while they are speaking. Keep your body language in check and listen with the intent to assure them that you understand the problem.
2. Deal with it professionally
Always remember that it is not you the client is angry with, it’s their experience with your company. Don’t take it personally and deal with the matter professionally. Take the high road.
3. Listen actively and authentically
All an unhappy customer wants is for you to hear his or her problem out and provide a solution. The customer is horribly upset with something and wants somebody to listen. So be all ears. “Start the dialogue with a neutral statement, such as, ‘Let’s go over what happened,’ or ‘Please tell me why you’re upset.’ This subtly creates a partnership between you and your client and lets him know that you’re ready to listen.”
4. Show that you care and ask questions
Repeat the customers’ concern to make sure you heard them right. Ask relevant questions to get clear about what the real problem is and what the client considers a good outcome.
5. Empathize with your customer
Empathy, by definition, “is feeling someone else’s pain or seeing through their eyes.” It “doesn’t necessarily lead them to change their behavior, but it does help you better navigate difficult situations.”
Put yourself in their shoes to understand their agitation. Empathy will give you an idea of how you would feel and what solution you would have sought had you been in the exact situation. When you will truly empathize, finding a solution becomes easier.
6. Make a sincere apology
We’ve all heard someone apologize without apologizing. Perhaps we’ve done it ourselves. But it’s an ineffective way to handle conflicts. Don’t shy away from sincerely apologizing. When a client sees that you genuinely regret the trouble caused by their dealings with your company, it can produce a sense of calm and give you a chance to correct it.
7. Collaborate to provide a resolution
Ask your client what solution would rectify the situation. You may have specific protocols in place, but be flexible in your approach–within reason. If the request is possible to fulfill then do it. If not, share an alternative aligned with company policies. Ultimately, be flexible. A negative review and cost you much more than providing a solution for an unhappy client.
8. Deescalate situations that could prompt negative publicity
Social media rules today’s digital age. A dissatisfied and unhappy customer can easily take an opportunity to malign your reputation through reviews and social platforms. It’s your job to communicate early and often to ensure they can vent to you and find a resolution before seeking it elsewhere.
Turn unhappy customers into brand enthusiasts
Protecting your company’s reputation and building lasting relationships is essential in today’s business climate.
Instead of viewing unhappy clients with complaints and grievances as a nuisance you can react with positivity and use it as an opportunity to transform an unhappy customer into a loyal brand enthusiast.
Criticism, at times, can be constructive. It will help you understand the basic problems with your product or service and give you a chance to improve.
A dissatisfied or unhappy client is a chance to be different from your competitors. People understand perfection isn’t always achievable. When you fix their problems, you regain their trust. This will encourage clients to come back to you, and word of mouth on your awesome customer service is sure to get out.
Create win-win client experiences
Having said all of this, draw your limits on pacifying customers who will never be satisfied. Handle certain irritating clients tactfully and suggest they do business elsewhere.
Problems will always be a part of a business, but how you deal with them matters most. Seek to create a great customer experience, and you can overcome situations triumphantly. You may even gain a devoted customer for life whose testimonials will attract more business. That’s a win-win in my book.
Mehul Panchal, founder and Chief Managing Director of Filter Concept Pvt. Ltd., is an entrepreneur, business adviser, mentor, speaker, writer, and gymer. Connect with @mehulpanchal_ on Twitter.
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