Identify with the customer
Yes it is difficult to empathize with someone that is aggressive, but as you take a step back and listen to the individual, let them know that you understand their anger and frustrations and are there to assist. Also, by remaining calm it is easier to ignore any unreasonable rantings and only focus on what is relevant, thereby helping you identify and find a solution much faster. Once they have explained their side of the story and you have listened to everything they have said, ask them if you may repeat what they told you, so that you are sure they know that you fully understand their frustration. This builds trust as the customer now sees you are listening. In many instances, this is all they really want, that someone listens.
Apologize, regardless of who is right or wrong
You can apologize without admitting any fault on your or the company's side by merely saying, “I do apologize for the inconvenience of what has occurred, let us see together how we can take care of this.” It is imperative to state that you want to take care of this together with the customer – now you're putting responsibility on their shoulders as well. Take not of the wording… you haven't admitted fault, but merely apologized for the inconvenience.
If there is nothing you can do, admit it, and say so immediately.
Some people will try and push your buttons to get any form of compensation. As the person is upset already, it is pointless to lie to them if nothing can be done. You are better off telling the truth and clearly clarifying that there is nothing you can do. In the long run this saves time and further altercations with the customer. Why? An irate customer will most likely continue to act out for as long as he thinks his behavior will change the outcome. If there's nothing that you or your coworkers can do, let the customer know. Be polite but firm - say something like, "I understand your frustration, and I'm terribly sorry, but there is nothing we can do about the problem." He/she may get more upset, but well eventually have to admit defeat and leave after he/she has had their final rant, if they see that you will not budge on the matter and cannot do anything further. Standing your ground is most important here otherwise the customers don't tend to back down.
No matter how tempting and no matter how good the chances are that you can get away with it, NEVER ever lie. Somewhere down the line it will bite you in the back. If you are not sure of something and don't know how to solve the issue, or just at a loss as what to do next – admit it. Then immediately commit to the person that you will find out and research the matter and report back within a specific period of time.It is vital that you then stick to the commitment within the time period you promised. Remember, most of the time the person just wants to be acknowledged and heard. You admitting that you don't have an answer is not showing weakness! In fact it shows strength of character and this is further enhanced by you committing to finding an answer within a specific time-frame. Think about it… how many people take responsibility for their own actions today? Hardly any! Hence if you take the responsibility to find out what happened and possibly identify a solution (good or bad) you are already doing more that most people would. This again shows integrity and interest in the customer.
Finding a solution
Go for the simplest logical solution
If there is an easy way to resolve the issue and you have the authority to do so, do so immediately and turn a negative situation into a customer for life.
If it's in writing, get it
Knowing your product/service and what the standard terms of service are within your company are vital in assessing whether a client is in the right or wrong. If the client accepted the company terms and conditions and you can prove this – then they need to accept this. If you tend to appease a rude client, even when they are in the wrong, this will bite you in the back – don't do it. If you have clear terms and conditions, simply clarify these with the customer in a calm and professional manner.
Send the customer to your superior
If you are not authorized to solve the problem, or head office made a mistake, then definitely refer them to someone above the line and make sure you inform this person of the pending complaint and that they will be dealing with a difficult, rude customer. Follow up afterwards to see if it has been corrected. It is important to have all the facts at hand, and witnesses (if possible) should the customer accuse you of not any wrong-doing.
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