Today I hosted my Stop Screaming at Me webinar. One of the things I shared with my participants is “6 Things You Should Never Do with an Upset Customer.” These 6 things tend to put customers on the defense and they encourage aggression. My gift to you today, my subscribers and visitors, is the discussion of the 6 things to avoid when dealing with upset customers.
1. Threatening. Never threaten to terminate a call or not deliver service to a difficult customer. For example, don’t say, “If you don’t calm down, I am going to hang up.” Threats like this will only infuriate your upset customer, put them on the defense, and make the interaction much more challenging. If your customer is difficult to the point that it’s hard for you to listen to them, say something like, “I’m sorry. It isn’t possible for me to help while listening to that language. If it stops, I can help.”
2. Arguing. This is pretty obvious, but I must address it because it happens. Arguing puts you on the same level as your difficult customer, prolongs the interaction, and stresses you. Instead of arguing, try one of the techniques in my blog post, “How to Get Any Angry Customer to Back Down.”
3. Reducing choice. It’s very important for your customers to feel they have choices and that they have some control over the outcomes. Reducing choice tends to encourage aggression. An example of offering a choice is, “You can make your payment over the phone with me now or you can go to your closest Western Union and submit payment today.”
4. Sounding too formal. When you’re speaking with a difficult customer, be careful not to come across as bureaucratic. Be casual and conversational. Sounding too formal may make you come across as intimidating or aggressive and this perception will encourage hostility in your customer.
5. Belaboring a point. In general, people don’t like to hear someone belabor a point. This is perceived as demeaning and it incites customers to become defensive. Simply make your point assertively and move on.
6. Rebutting issues. Don’t rebut. Period. Try to find some aspect of the customer’s view with which you agree, but without affirming the customer’s behavior. A simple way to avoid rebutting the issues and at the same time agree with the customer is, “I realize this whole thing must be frustrating for you.”
Avoid these known aggression-starters when dealing with unhappy customers. When you do, you’ll find that you more quickly create calm and get angry customers to back down.
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