By Mike Cieri, MSIR, Vice President of Mardac Consultants
Providing customers with the service they need and want can be deeply gratifying. No doubt you have experienced the good feeling that comes from helping a customer in just the right way; the customer expresses appreciation by smiling, by complimenting or thanking you.
However, we all know that customers can be “difficult,” too. A customer whom you perceive as difficult is angry, frustrated, or confused because of an unmet need and expresses that need in an emotional way.
It is never pleasant to be faced with behavior that you perceive as difficult; but the experience can be transformed into a positive one that benefits the customer and you:
The following four-step process can be extremely effective in handling a difficult customer:
- Be aware of your personal perceptions, biases, and reactions.
- Calm the customer with basic counseling skills.
- Diagnose and analyze the situation.
- Work with the customer to develop an action plan for solving the identified problem.
Be aware of your personal perceptions, biases, and reactions.
Ask yourself whether you are becoming defensive and annoyed, whether you are breathing more quickly, and whether you are thinking of inappropriate comments to make.
An awareness of yourself and your personal reactions allows you to choose consciously to remain calm and to control your own behavior.
Your attitude and the thoughts you choose are your most powerful assets in controlling your personal response to any situation.
Next month, in Part 2, we will discuss strategies to calm the customer using basic counseling tools.
About the author:
Mike Cieri, MSIR, is Vice President of Mardac Consultants and been in the Human Resource Management field for over 20 years. During this time he has held a variety of management positions, including several years on the executive management team of a large corporation as Vice President of Human Resources and Safety, as well as Vice President of Operations.