Dealing with Difficult Customers--Part 3

In our first two installments we learned that there are no dictators and no doormats in customer service.

We are to lead firmly and confidently, but not harshly. Neither should we tolerate an abusive customer trying to run us over. We also learned to lead with H.E.A.R.T.—That we should: Hear, Empathize, Accept, Reassure and Take action. Taking firm but kind control by leading with H.E.A.R.T. helps control the customer, the situation and the outcome.

The 3rd objective is also very important. It is, to listen! But not just passive listening—Active listening!

Active listening is: Listening beyond simple understanding to identify the core truths in what’s being communicated.

Sometimes a difficult customer will start in on their topic and the solution presents itself to us quickly. We see it right away and the answer is so obvious that we want to jump right in and fix it, cutting off any further discussion. Nothing could be worse than doing that!

What most difficult customers really need is an opportunity to vent. They not only want to be heard—they need to be heard. They need to KNOW they’ve been heard.

Don’t be overly anxious to get to the bottom line. For the customer, the journey of getting to the bottom line is just as important as the resolution.

Don’t rob them of that opportunity. Only after they’ve been given the time to vent can they be truly open to fully receive the answer you have for them. Think about a time when you felt you weren’t being listened to. Remembering how it felt to you should help you understand and identify with their feelings.

In my next installment, I’ll break down the 5 key elements of Active Listening. Stay tuned. You’ll be glad you did—and so will your customers!


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