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Handling difficult or complaining customers isn't always easy. Most business people understand the importance of successful customer handling in theory, yet actually putting it into practice consistently in their company is often another matter. Using some of the best tips for customer handling can help a business stay service-focused.
Responding to complaints quickly is crucial so that customers feel the company cares about serving them. Also, the longer it takes for a business to follow through on a customer's complaint, the more likely it is for the person to become even more dissatisfied. Customers want to know that they matter and that their complaints will be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. Always following through is one of the best tips for customer handling, because it makes it easier to make sure good service is replacing any previously bad experiences.
Admitting and apologizing for mistakes to customers rather than denying the problem is one of the most important customer handling tips. Merely citing company policy or otherwise acting in defense of the company rather than trying to be fair is often taken by customers as covering up mistakes or making excuses. A simple, but honest acknowledgment of the error and a short, genuine apology usually satisfies a complaining customer. Of course, adjusting the customer's account, such as by adding a note on the file so other employees know what happened, is a good idea to help avoid problems occurring again.
Regularly doing surveys either by telephone or leaving cards in a store to be filled out can be a good tactic in customer handling. When people take the time to voice their feelings about a company, either positive or negative, they often provide information that can greatly help a business better understand its customer base. One of the easiest tips in pleasing and retaining clients is for businesses to always listen to the voice of the customer.
In the case of difficult customers, such as those creating a scene yelling in the store, it's often best for employees to get the supervisor or manager to deal with the situation. Oftentimes, customers who are making a fuss are angry with the service they received and end up demanding to speak with a manager anyway. Difficult customer handling should involve calming the person down while also looking for a solution to the problem.
When I worked for a private testing service, we would occasionally get unhappy customers. My immediate supervisor knew she was not very good at handling a difficult customer, so she would have that person wait until I arrived. I'd take that person into a private office and let them vent their anger and describe the problem as they saw it. I have found that effective complaint handling means letting the customer get it all out in the open first. Sometimes the real issue isn't the first problem they describe.
In my situation, the customer paid a substantial testing fee in advance, then drove at least an hour to our testing center to take the nursing qualification test. She didn't
pass the test, then found out she would have to pay another substantial fee to retake it. She was extremely upset to discover we could not refund the original testing fee. I realized the real issue was not about the refund, but the fact she was not able to enter nursing school. I think one good customer handling tip is to draw out the person's real issue, not just the immediate problem.
When I worked in retail, I'd say a full third of my day was spent handling difficult customers. One tip I'd offer is to provide as much privacy as possible when dealing with angry customers. If you don't have a designated office in the back, try moving the customer to a less crowded part of the store. Getting into a loud discussion with an upset customer in front of other shoppers can cause problems for you later.
I'd also say employees should recognize each other's customer handling skills and quietly direct that angry customer to the one most likely to handle the situation. Not everyone is skilled at handling a difficult customer.
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