Handling a customer complaint from a difficult customer

Managing a customer complaint from an irate customer, who perhaps was not handled well by colleagues in the past requires tact and skill. If you are having trouble establishing a personal connection and the customer sound arrogant and impatient, the best thing is to ask for his opinion.

Most people are flattered when anyone asks what they think, and that helps them loosen up. So you can break open the conversation by asking an open-ended question such as “What do you think about …?” or “How have you been affected by …?”

Continue the conversation by offering comments that assure the customer you’re listening and understanding: “Really? What happened next?” “Sure, that makes sense” or “Please go on.” But don’t repeat the same response over and over—“Uh-huh” or “Yep”—because that can make the customer feel rushed or ignored.

Give the call full attentionMost important, give each call full attention. Never try to multitask. That means you should avoid opening your mail, working on another customer’s account or checking your e-mail while you’re talking on the phone.

Resist any temptation to engage in another conversation or take another call. If the distraction is absolutely unavoidable, ask your customer’s permission to put the call on hold, and wait for an affirmative response.

Finally, give some thought to the way you end the call. When the customer thanks you for your help, don’t reply “No problem!” That focuses attention on you and your efforts, rather than on the customer.

Instead, offer a plain and sincere “You’re welcome.” And quickly add “What else can I do to help you today?” to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything. That’s the best way to wrap up a conversation with a very satisfied customer. If not handled well customer complaint may degenerate to customer dissatisfacton.

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