The art of communication with unsatisfied customers is an important science both for executives and for the entire team of the company. If you are dealing with consumers of various goods or services, you will inevitably come across with it. In this instance, the main task is to prevent the loss of confidence in your company. Ability to build a competent dialogue with difficult customers shows the maturity of your business.
How to communicate with difficult customers and resolve the complications without negative consequences for the company's credibility? Further, we will try to consider a few illustrative examples to help you to build a proper dialogue with the unhappy customer.
If your company is engaged in the service sector, the quality of service is the most important factor for you for a successful business. The appropriate level of service is the key to creating a positive image of the company in the eyes of your customers. Moreover impeccable service significantly increases the loyalty of your customer base, and as a result, promotes the increase of profits.
How to maintain loyalty of problematic customer
Unfortunately, even in the friendliest and most customer-oriented companies, you will meet unsatisfied consumers and customers. If you intend to keep and upsurge the loyalty of your customers, pay close attention to the requests from customers. Claims and objections, complaints and suggestions - all these deserve the special control. Use unhappy customers as an indicator that shows problem areas in your service system.
One point is certain - whatever problems do occur with clients, such problems must be solved as soon as possible. Your customers should feel and see your concern and honest desire to help in solving faced difficulties.
Current practice shows that there is a better chance to persuade a client, who always opposes and expresses claims than an indifferent customer who agrees on everything. Also, for the management, it is very important to have a timely and effective feedback from customers. Awareness helps to identify problem areas timely, prevent and correct any deficiencies in the customer service system.
If your employees show care and attention to a customer, he remains pleased, and this increases the chances of re-orders. That is why you can’t simply dismiss the claims and complaints from the customer. Think of such applications as the main source of marketing information. Client’s appeals can be used as a tester, indicating the current wants of potential customers. Accordingly, effective work in this direction is the basis of improving the service system.
Why a customer is unhappy and has some claims.
For a clear understanding of the motivation of an unsatisfied customer, you need to start with the basics. What is a complaint or a claim of a customer? In fact, it is the client's appeal due to his dissatisfaction with his buying expectations. However, the seller must consider client’s request differently. For the seller, the customer complaint is another opportunity to reestablish customer’s loyalty by eliminating the problems or product faults.
Claims and customer dissatisfaction are the great chance to meet all the requirements of the customer and transfer him/her into the category of regular customers. No doubt, complaints, negative reviews and buyer dissatisfaction are unpleasant to each person, but for a professional seller, it is a real gift.
If the customer is ready to spend his own time on his complain and the explanations of claims, it suggests that he has not lost his loyalty to your company. Otherwise, it would be easier to find another company. Willingness to discuss the company's activities and propose options for its improvement, indicate a certain degree of loyalty of your customer.
What do customers expect, when expressing complain
Further, we will consider the most common behaviors of dissatisfied customers, their motivation and reasons for making a claim. Customers regularly make complaints and claims in the following situations
1. The desire to talk or quarrel - this category of consumers considers complaining process as an opportunity to communicate. They specially visit you or call your company to express their views and quarrel. Typically, these people have relatively low income and a lot of free time. For this client, another scandal in the shop is like to be a participant of a soap opera.
And for the individual members of this category, it is the only way to compensate spending cash. Often, these clients do not require financial compensation; it is enough to let off steam and get communication. Be ready that among this category may be true seekers of truth, ready to write to the appropriate authorities and the media.
How employees shall respond in such situations:
Most importantly, it is to seize the initiative in your hands in time, and not to be led by a disgruntled customer. You must firmly but politely steer the conversation in your direction. If an employee who interacts with a problem customer is not experienced enough in communication, it is necessary to attract more skilled employees.
2. A sense of justice and a desire to punish the guilty ones - this category of problem customers also have the purpose of financial compensation. For this group of people is more important to get to the company's management and personally express existing claims and complaints. This buyer is always ready to spend personal time and always wants to get an appointment with the superior. They will come, write plaintive appeals and calls to the head office, etc.
How employees should respond in similar situations:
In this case, the main objective is to listen to unhappy customers. If during the conversation you feel it is a necessary and appropriate action, take responsibility for the situation.
Even if the consumer is not right in their claims, do not argue with him and quarrel, it will only aggravate the situation. If the complaint is justified and deserves special attention, you should notify about it your direct management. Talking to a problem customer, be specific, and do not deceive the client with invented excuses. It is better to talk openly, than hiding and squirm in a conversation.
Paying attention to the complaints and claims of customers, you can learn how to better adapt provided services or goods to the client's needs, how to effectively organize internal business processes and bring the level of service to a new level. In any case, dissatisfied customers are still better than their absence.
Portrait of dissatisfied customer
The modern entrepreneur needs to understand that it is impossible to satisfy all customers' requests and to please every customer. Unfounded criticism, insults, complaints, various psychological manipulation and deception, all of these can reflect a negative interaction with the customer and the sales persons wish to close the deal at any cost.
An unsatisfied customer is a person who wants to talk about the problem and therefore counts on your help in solving it. If you manage to solve the hitches, you give the customer base to contact your company again. If the client is unsatisfied, he has two solutions - either another attempt or finds another company.
If the choice is for finding another company, you will not even be able to establish the cause of client discontent and his going to a different company.
Every seller dreams to get a single algorithm of interaction with problem customers, which would work in various situations. Also, each specific situation requires an individual approach. However, there are certain basic behaviors of unsatisfied customers, in particular:
- Polite and calm manner - a customer calmly explains the essence of the claim and requests to resolve these difficulties;
- Dissatisfaction and disturbed behavior – a customer, is emotional when speaking, but complies within the limits of decency;
- Extremely aggressive customer behavior - the degree of expressed aggression can range from a high tone in the conversation to open aggression and threats against employees of the company.
Polite and calm manner
This pattern of behavior is simple in content and is rather rare. Your action is to listen carefully to customer complaints, apologize for the situation and help to eliminate the difficulties.
Dissatisfied and disturbed behavior
Work with this category of problem customers is more difficult. Being immersed in an emotional state, you risk losing the rational part of your conversation. Always give unsatisfied customers a chance to speak. If the problem situation emerged in the main business premises or front of other customers, you need to isolate the problematic customer.
Just get him to the office, so you will get rid of extra eyes and be able to provide the client with the atmosphere of a serious private conversation.
Extremely aggressive customer behavior
This group of individuals is the customers who are not able to perceive the information adequately. Of course, some of your reasonable arguments can be heard, but they are unlikely to reach the unsatisfied customer’s consciousness. The client can be quite aggressive and use epithets, unrelated to the real state of affairs, but directly indicating the emotional state of the customer. Your task is to respond to such criticism, and not fall into a blankness due to the client's pressure.
There are situations when expressed claims are of a general nature. It is necessary to specify an existing claim and gently bring the approach to resolve it.
Claim – This is a disgrace, what a company you have.
Answer - Saying that, what exactly do you mean?
Claim - The advertisement stated that the product is available, but it is not.
Answer - When and exactly what advertising have you seen?
Specifying and directing the customer to the very essence of the complaint, the seller helps the customer to formulate precisely the existing claims and to identify the main cause of his discontent and irritation. A competent seller should not respond to the claims that are general in nature. Do not be angry with the client, or tell him to leave your store, it is better to use the customer's objection, as an opportunity to bring it to the closing of the transaction.
Often unsatisfied customer breaks a torrent of criticism against the sellers. Quite often, such criticism is unfair and unreasonable. In this communication, a disgruntled customer can use the claims that do not reflect the real situation. It can be such statements: "You have a poor customer service", "your sellers do not know what to sell," "" Your price is unreasonably inflated ", etc.
To work effectively with such complaints, it is recommended to apply the following methods of interaction:
- Specification of the issue;
- Search for alternatives.
"You do not like the procedure of registration documentation, or as I talk to you?", "Did you have to wait long for the reception?", etc.
Specification of the issue and finding an alternative allows revealing the exact cause of customer’s irritability and ways to eliminate it as soon as possible.
Working with consumer’s criticism
It is much more efficient to use one simple method working with highly angry customers. In particular, it is a way to draw criticism from an unsatisfied customer. This approach in dealing with problem customers, allows you to release your client from negative emotions and experiences. Pulling complaints and criticism from the client, you give him a clear understanding of what have caused the dissatisfaction.
Examples of drawing criticism from the client:
"I had a very long wait", " A long wait is annoying you, what else don’t you like?", "The staff is not paying attention to me, I was not even offered a cup of coffee", "You have waited a long time, you have not been offered coffee, what else you are not satisfied with? ".
When pulling criticism from the client, follow the intonation of your speech. The customer will pay attention to your tone and emotional conversation coloring.
Every entrepreneur engaged in service and sales sooner or later is confronted with the criticism. Unfortunately, in most cases, the customer comments and complaints are justified. If the client's criticism reflects the real state of affairs, such criticism is deemed fair. Such claims are always specific and based on objective factors.
"Your employee came to the meeting with a delay of 30 minutes", "Your proposed product turned out to be defective," etc.
If you are faced with a fair criticism on the part of the customer, the right thing is to listen to his arguments and agree. Your consent must be expressed in a confident tone; this is the only way you can convince the client that you are fully responsible for what has happened. Unsatisfied customer will see your consent and will be convinced of the justice of his claim. A step towards to the client will allow you to find an alternative way out of the problem situation and will retain the trust of your customer.
Current practice shows that most complaints from customers are quite reasoned and justified. Working with problem customers, a lot of reasons for their discontent can be identified. So discontent could be the result of improper communication with a client before.
Someone is upset with a long wait; someone is concerned about the quality of the proposed product or manner of communication of sellers, etc. The reasons for dissatisfaction can be very different.
However, if to take general features into consideration, it is possible to divide causes of client dissatisfaction into certain groups, these are:
- The customer is sure that he was treated unfairly - this is one of the main reasons of customers’ irritation. Waiting for specialist advice or contact with the operator may cause irritation;
- An employee who has worked with the client before, has not finished the job - a violation of obligations is quite legitimate reason for claims by the customer;
- Negative experiences with members of your or another company - as a result of poor maintenance, the client has formed a stereotype and a negative view on all subsequent interactions with the company's personnel;
- Customers with a problematic character - it can be both overly sensitive nature, and simply hot-tempered people, eager for scandals.
No matter what category the problematic client refers to, for the head customer’s claim it is an opportunity to receive an assessment of service system from first hands. The claims and complaints of customer indicate errors and shortcomings in the various business processes. Be grateful to customers who have spent their own time to tell you the problem areas in customer service.
How to interact with unsatisfied customers
All the work with dissatisfied customers has one goal - to bring a client to an adequate dialogue and to pinpoint the essence of his claim.
1. It is not recommended to express anger and to answer to rudeness with rudeness during the dialogue. Remember, you are a qualified specialist, who must solve the problem with the smallest harm to the company. Consider a dialogue with the dissatisfied customer as a potentially larger problem if handled wrong, and respond accordingly. Be sure to let the customer speak out and ask him: "What is the essence of the claim, and how can I help you?"
If you want to cope with frustration and irritation of the client, give them the opportunity to express all their claims. Having listened carefully to unhappy customers and clarified the essence of the existing claims, you will help the client to relax. Besides, constructive dialogue helps to reveal the reasons for customer dissatisfaction and find the best option to solve it. Speak with a safe tone, without raising voice, and with a serious face.
2. Do not sparkle with your brilliant mind while communicating with an unhappy customer. Moreover, under no circumstances, do not make it personal. Even if the client hysterically shouts and insults you, do not be like him. Such a balanced state will give you more credibility.
3. Express sympathy to the client and understand his position. Such an approach does not mean you have to unquestioningly accept and acknowledge your guilt. Even if the client is in an emotionally overwrought state, consider what would be your reaction in such a situation. You shouldn’t respond negativity; it is better to try to understand the position of the unsatisfied customer. Show the customer that you sympathize with him; it will reduce the intensity and smooth customer dissatisfaction. If the second party of the dispute sympathizes, nods his head and is willing to help solve the problem, the conflict will be settled.
4. The following phrases can help you to work effectively with dissatisfied customers:
- Yes, it is a very unpleasant situation, and I understand you;
- If I were in your place, I would also express complaints;
- I understand that you are in a bad situation;
- I'm sorry that you are having difficulties due to us;
- I can imagine how unpleasant it was.
Saying these phrases, your tone of voice, body posture and facial expression must prove your sincerity and sympathy. There shouldn’t be hypocrisy in this dialogue. Avoid negative statements in the dialogue, and do not point out a wrongness of an opponent. Do not use the following phrases:
- In this situation, you are wrong;
- It can not be;
- You should have behaved a little differently;
- What can I do now, this happens often;
- I'm sorry, but I can not help you;
- In our company, it is normal;
- Our company never does that;
- You should have ...
5. Do not take the claims and attacks unsatisfied customers personally. You must understand that in the eyes of the unsatisfied customer, you represent the entire company, which caused him discomfort and angered him. Customers make their conclusions about the service for each employee, with whom they had to interact. If sales team members are not careful, and the cashier is rude, the impression of the service will not be the best. The most important thing for you is an objective recognition of the error and its timely removal. After all, the purpose of your business is the maximum satisfaction of consumer expectations.
6. No doubt regardless of the mood client has, it is important to solve problems promptly and, if it is possible, to compensate the damage. Show your customer what accidental misunderstanding have happened, and make a small gift.
- If you have broken the terms of delivery of goods - send a box of chocolates and a card with an apology with the belated product;
- The customer is dissatisfied with the insolent treatment of sellers - give the client a discount and make negligent employees apologize;
- The person has spent personal time for a long wait - do not allow happen it at his next visit.
The more serious the problem situation and the claims, the more significant should be an offered compensation. If during the settlement of the question you were able to do it without the scandals and recriminations, you have all the chances to translate the problem customer into the permanent category.
7. There are situations where a claim of the unsatisfied customer has nothing to do with you. If it isn’t your fault, first of all, take the time and try to calm down. Do not deny your personal fault and blame it on other workers. If a person is highly annoyed and wants damage compensation, he just will not hear you. It is better to gently steer the conversation in that direction, which contributes to the solution of the difficulties.
It is necessary to talk with the client to identify the perpetrators and specific ways to solve problems. In cases where your competence is not enough to solve the problem, it is better to involve a qualified specialist who can give a customer satisfying answers. The main thing is to make it clear to the client that you are willing to help in resolving the situation.
How to conduct a telephone conversation
Interacting with unsatisfied and unbalanced customers, it is difficult enough to keep restraint and calmness. This is especially true for telephone conversations with problem customers. The client, calling you may become aggressive as a result of a long wait, or in the absence of a positive solution of his problems. For the employee, interacting with customers on the phone, it is very important to be able to establish a positive dialogue and effectively solve emerging difficulties.
Experts define some manners of behavior that cannot be used in a telephone conversation with the client. In particular, hearing on the other end customer’s dissatisfaction, you should not:
- Hang up, or transfer the client to another number;
- Excuse and justify with the phrase: "I'm not guilty";
- Recommend the customer to come in person or send your written complaint;
- To be rude to the customer and compare him/her with other customers.
Regardless of the situation, remain courteous and polite. During the dialogue, you can use the following phrases:
- If you do not mind;
- Thank you for spending your personal time;
- Can I ask you some clarifying questions;
- Our company appreciates your feedback, etc.
How to conduct a dialogue with aggressive clients
Customers belonging to this category are easy to recognize. As a rule, they quickly show exactingness and express claims. This client immediately transfers to the heart of the matter and does not tolerate lyrical digressions. When talking on the phone, keep confident and solid tone, it will allow you to control the conversation. Express your thoughts clearly, and do not go away from the main topic of conversation. Do not show excessive pressure or insistence; it may lead to dispute.
In a telephone conversation with an aggressive-minded customer, you must follow certain rules:
- To fully understand the customer's problematic, listen to him;
- To establish contact, express sympathy;
- Be ready to offer an alternative solution to the encountered difficulties.
In cases when customer's complaints are justified, the best way to establish contact is to express understanding of his position.
If the customer expresses claims and complains, do not allow yourself hostile remarks, but rather sympathize him. If it happens that the customer is overflowing with negative emotions, try to understand him. Do not succumb to such emotional mood, keep calm and tranquility. Listen to the customer, establish direct contacts and continue to search for solutions.
Analysis of dissatisfied customer’s interaction with the seller
Complaints, claims and the negative attitude of the company begin with prosaic consumer dissatisfaction. If in the beginning, it's just a claim, then the output may already be frank hostility. If you do not take action and do not work to improve the service system, customers will be more disappointed. That, in turn, will necessarily be reflected in the volumes of company sales.
The modern market dictates new standards and rules of interaction with customers. Today, it’s much more profitable to create a dedicated system and timely response to customer complaints than to aggravate the situation with indifference. Effective work with problem customers is not only a way to preserve and expand customer base, but it is also a great opportunity to draw attention to the weaknesses in the various business processes. All that dissatisfied customers want is to be heard.
Customer service and timely and proper reaction to customers complain is the solid base for your business thus you need to always screen and control all areas of customer care service in your company.
See more under the courses on customer satisfaction and loyalty provided by Atton Institute Dubai.