Wednesday, September 27, 2023

How companies can effectively deal with negative customer interactions

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

In business, negative interactions with customers are just as common as positive ones. While it’s easy to dwell on the less enjoyable experiences that might leave you wondering if it’s worth continuing with your corporate journey, all it takes is a change of perspective to see those experiences for what they really are: opportunities to make your customers feel seen and heard.

To start and maintain a successful business, business owners must learn how to handle and overcome challenging situations with customers. To help entrepreneurs better meet these challenges, 14 Business Council members share effective strategies for dealing with difficult customers or clients.

1. Gather the facts

As challenging as it may be, I suggest stepping into the situation as soon as possible and establishing the facts with an objective lens. Keep the facts ready to interact for a quick fix. If it’s your fault, acknowledge it, apologize, use it as an opportunity to redeem yourself and then surpass yourself. If it’s not your fault, use it as an opportunity to educate the customer and see how you can help them from there. – Mark CostanzaMobile Smith Health, Inc.

2. Confirm customer’s concerns

Listen and acknowledge the customer that their concerns are valid. Most people just want to feel heard. An important piece of communication I prefer to use with difficult clients is, “I fully understand where you’re coming from and I really appreciate your patience and flexibility as we sort this out.” Nobody really likes an apology, so give them something better by fixing it. – Sam Kaufman, On The Level Construction, LLC Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

3. Find and implement a solution

Take action by acknowledging the complaint, finding a solution and implementing the solution. Listen without interruption, apologize, be transparent and don’t play the blame. Sometimes customers write reviews to feel empowered. Sometimes they write them because their experience was really bad. Either way, being active in finding a solution helps keep your brand’s reputation intact. – Yasmin Walter, KMD books

4. Be honest

Customers who give negative feedback may be better customers than those who don’t! What they often tell you is that they want to stay with you if you can solve their problems. The best strategy is to be completely honest. If you made a mistake, own it. If it was their mistake, let them know and offer information or training to prevent such mistakes in the future. – Jai Rawat, Zinrelo

5. Cooperate with customers to solve problems

The key to turning around a bad customer experience is to listen carefully and discover what need or desire is not being met. Then, with empathy guiding you about how they are likely to want or want to satisfy that need, take immediate action. It starts by saying, “I’m sorry this isn’t working for you. Let’s see how we can work it out together.” By working together on a solution, the tension is broken and the way is cleared again. – Jerry Cahn, Brilliant old

6. Always stay professional

Direct the client’s attention to your desire to help them. Show empathy but also show your strength and self-confidence. Angry people feed on weakness. If you’ve done something wrong, admit it and fix it. If they’re just venting, listen patiently. That said, there is no need to hang out with someone who has become disrespectful to you or your employees. Being difficult is okay, but being disrespectful isn’t. – Matthew Claassen, Medigap Seminars LLC

7. Keep calm

First, stay calm. You don’t want their behavior to take you out of your game. Sometimes customers feel that they have not been given enough information or made an uninformed decision. When you listen and show empathy, you give them space to process those feelings. Always try to understand what they’re saying – don’t just jump in with an answer without making sure you’re doing it right! – Rakesh Sonic, login radius

8. Really Listen

It is important to listen sincerely when customers or clients raise concerns. Don’t interrupt, stay calm and use body language that indicates that you are listening. Thank them for the feedback and validate the concern. Often people want to be heard, so creating the space to voice their concerns can be the first step in addressing the issue. – Stephanie Schwartz, Little Bean group

9. Manage expectations

We call it ‘managing expectations’. This should be done before a project starts and also throughout the process. Check in to make sure both parties meet expectations. If a problem arises, it is best to know which solution is mutually beneficial. – Joan McKinney, Aurora Exhibition Solutions, Inc.

10. Focus on doing the right thing

Stop trying to be right and do the right thing instead. I’ve seen these tense situations turn into collaborative sessions in the blink of an eye. This strategy allows people to let their guard down and get to the heart of the matter. Being right isn’t really important in the long run, and doing the right thing will make you feel better. – Joe Crandall, Greencastle Associates Consulting

11. Maintain Mutually Respectful Relationships

The cookie cutter’s answer is to be patient, but if your customer is rude, disrespectful, or verbally abusive, you don’t have to be patient or listen to them. Representatives must stand up for themselves and leaders must stand up for their employees. This doesn’t mean you should lose your cool or be rude to your rude customers, but don’t be afraid to fire an abusive customer. Saying, “It’s best if we don’t work together anymore” is the best way to go. – Ammar Dayani, Prince Distribution

12. Approach with empathy

To fully understand the thought process of a customer or client raising issues, it is essential that leaders and team members approach the situation with full empathy for users. By understanding what made a customer discouraged, upset, or unhappy, you’ll be able to accurately assess the situation and provide insight that will help. – Christian Brown, Glewee

13. Be the bigger person

Remember it’s the way of the world and don’t take it too personally. There will always be difficult people, and often a customer who is rude to you is also rude to others. Remember to hold yourself high and do your best work; just because a customer is rude doesn’t mean you should be rude too. It might be hard, but being the bigger person is definitely the way to go. – Josh Thompson, Thompson Construction

14. Stay true to yourself

When interacting with a difficult client or client, it can be easy to get caught up in their energy or demands in a rush to please them and move on. Stay true to yourself, mind your own limits and never lose sight of your company’s mission. You may be surprised to see how your own calm or grace can diffuse a situation and encourage others to go with your flow. – Sara Abbas, Evölver, Inc.


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