Without clients and customers, a business couldn’t possibly succeed.
Most customer interactions are pleasant, leaving both parties involved feeling satisfied. But the longer an individual is in business, the more likely he or she is to encounter nasty customers. Nasty customers aren’t those who are dissatisfied for a legitimate reason; they’re the people who complain for no reason, post unpleasant and unnecessary feedback on the internet, or just get downright ugly whenever they frequent a person’s business.
While there’s no way around the challenge of dealing with unpleasant customers, there are definitely ways to reduce such occurrences and deal with unsavory encounters with consumers. At the very least, an explosive situation can be diffused. At the very best, the businessperson stands to gain a loyal, satisfied customer.
How to Take Care of Unpleasant Customer Interactions
Diffuse the Anger by Listening.
People who are angry, upset, or disappointed all want one thing: to have someone listen to them. A small business owner can do a lot to diffuse the situation by letting the customer know that he or she will be listened to. Practice active listening techniques such as making eye contact, giving undivided attention, nodding the head in acknowledgement, and repeating back what was said to show it’s been heard.
See the Situation from the Customer’s POV.
Whether a business owner takes the stance that theÂ customer is always rightÂ or not, it’s essential to put forth the effort to see the situation from the customer’s point of view. After listening to the customer’s side, the business owner can put themselves in the customer’s shoes and be honest with how the identical situation would make him or her feel. A successful businessperson never loses the ability to see things from the point of view of the customer.
Rectify an Unsatisfactory Customer Experience.
If a mistake has been made on the part of the business, they owe it to the customer to make things right. This process should begin with an apology before being followed by action that helps shift the experience from negative to positive. A replacement product plus a bonus product can smooth over the situation. Likewise, a generous discount or free service can help rectify a customer’s unpleasant experience.
Take Time to Follow Up.
Even after a dissatisfying situation has been fixed, the business owner should still follow up to ensure there’s no residual anger or upset on the customer’s part. A phone call, email, or comment via social media is appropriate, depending on whether the original situation took place in person or online.
Make Appropriate Changes.
Repeat problems with the same business issue or a huge blow-up that makes it clear something needs to be changed should prompt the small business owner to make necessary alterations or eliminations. Only the business owner can decide if these should be related to the way business is being conducted or the way the owner and the staff members are conducting business.
Learn from the Experience
Each encounter and customer interaction serves as a learning experience. At least, it will for the smart businessperson who wants to avoid future unpleasant dealings with nasty customers. Sometimes, the angriest, most upset customers can be converted into one of the business’s most loyal and satisfied customers. But it takes time and genuine effort for this conversion to occur.
In addition to setting things straight and rectifying the situation, a businessperson who’s on the ball will take away insight and experience from each unpleasant encounter to use in the effort to make each customer interaction a pleasant one.
Mary YliselaÂ is a freelance writer and small business owner who helps educate other entrepreneurs on the importance of good communication with customers via articles on business topics and businesspeople such asÂ Steve Wynn.