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Difficult customer? Learn how to deal with one

How many times have you or your sales or customer service team faced a difficult situation with a difficult customer? We hope your answer has been a few or none. However, it never hurts to know some actions you can take to mitigate the development of a potential problem.

When a client begins to feel frustrated, it is very likely that before communicating verbally he will do it physically, this can be with crossed arms, constant posture changes, sighs, among some other manifestations, and it is right at that moment when we can predict that all his interest is being lost and that any possibility of retaining him is going away quickly.

If the moment described above arrives, it is time to put into practice all the communication skills to get out of the situation in the best way and above all to mitigate a possible catastrophic outcome. Below, we list 7 points that will be useful in such a case:

1- Active listening. Active listening refers to listening to the other person by using our cognitive and empathic abilities to understand and interpret the message he is transmitting, as well as the body language he is using. In this way we can demonstrate to the interlocutor that we really understand his feelings and thoughts.

At this point it is not a matter of telling the client that you understand their problem and that you want to help them, but to really show them that you fully understand them and can provide them with the help they need.

2- Effectiveness heuristics. Effective heuristics refers to what is experienced on an emotional level based on a stimulus that is received, that is, the judgment that we often make as a result of the experiences and feelings that are generated influenced by what surrounds us at the moment. This allows us to make decisions effectively based on how we feel about a person, situation or place being evaluated.

Without knowing it, on many occasions customers tend to interact, and consequently respond, based on the level of trust that is generated with the relationship that is being established. Therefore, it is important to try to resolve each of their concerns so that they can feel at ease and relaxed in the situation and generate that atmosphere of trust necessary to interact freely.

3- Beginner’s mind. The concept of beginner’s mind or zen mind, refers to approaching situations, but without having previously made judgments, since everything about it is unknown. It is to arrive with the full awareness that you are not an expert in anything you are facing and everything will be something new to discover and learn.

By applying the beginner’s mind, you are looking to reach the customer without having preconceived ideas about their problems or what they should have done or known before having the conversation with you. In this new relationship you are going to form you cannot be an expert about the situation or the conversation you will have, we are not saying that you do not know about the product or service to offer, but the unknown will be the relationship you are going to have.

4- Fear. The fear of a negative result when having to go through a complicated situation often makes us act accordingly, looking for ways to avoid those results, that is why we try to control everything and if something is out of reach it causes us great repercussions and unfavorable feelings.

However, being afraid of a negative reaction from a customer for not being able to give an answer or for not providing the answer they need can lead us to cause a bigger problem. Hence, it is important to manage those feelings in the right way to control them and not act driven by them, remember that apologies or providing half solutions are not always the answer. It is important that when meeting with a client the first thing to do is to listen and understand the problem, and then determine what steps to take to solve it.

5- Problem analysis. When you have a problem, the way you decide to approach it is the first step to reach a solution. If it is a big problem, it is advisable to divide it into small sections, this way it is easier to start taking action and feel that progress is being made to solve it, which motivates you to continue working on it.

Clients who arrive with problems and seek a solution often feel overwhelmed and would like a magic answer to help them, however, it is not always possible to provide an immediate response without having analyzed everything involved in the problem.

6- Frustration or anger. Like fear, feelings of anger or frustration are part of our nature as living beings, so experiencing them should not cause problems if they are managed properly.

In the moment we are confronted with an angry customer, it is necessary to avoid the tendency we naturally have to justify our position in the situation, as this is likely to aggravate the problem by feeling attacked. The feelings experienced by the customer should not be taken personally, however, they should be taken seriously so that you can act accordingly. It is likely that your client will reject any alternative proposed to him if it is exposed at the moment of his anger, that is why it is important to give him some space and time, giving him the opportunity to calm down and see from a less influenced perspective.

7- Calm. Conflicts and problems will always be part of business, but the way you react to the pressure they generate will determine to a great extent the relationship you establish with a customer. If this relationship is affected by negative reactions, you can be sure that your customer will soon cease to be a customer or will be thinking about how to stop being a customer.

Applying emotional intelligence and remaining calm in the face of any problems that may arise will be of vital importance in the event of conflicts that may arise.

Finally, remember that if you allow emotions to control you and respond based on that instead of solving conflicts you will only create more. It is preferable to make an effort to improve in this aspect and before any problem listen to the client, try to understand him and above all show empathy for the situation.

 Although we often do not think about it, part of how our clients evaluate us is based on the way in which we manage our relationship with them, and we are not only referring to being attentive and avoiding conflicts, but that in spite of those conflicts that may arise, we can move forward and demonstrate the capacity that we have as a company.