You’ve probably noticed that angry customers don’t always listen to reason. That’s why even when we mean well, a simple misplaced word can make an unhappy customer fly off the handle. Check out my video where I share 7 of the worst things to say to angry customers, along with what to say instead to regain trust.
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At a certain stage in life – hopefully sooner rather than later – most of us have learned when dealing with angry customers, it pays to bite our tongue. In other words, we don’t waste time arguing with customers or rationalizing poor service. If we’ve made a mistake, we quickly admit to the error, apologize, and make amends. There’s no ‘winning’ an argument with a customer. We might win the argument but lose the customer. It would be a modern day Pyrrhic victory.
Question for you to ponder… do you use this same life lesson in your personal relationships? I admit that at times over 23 years of marriage to Lydia, I have debated when I should have shut up. Sometimes our ego makes us so self-righteous that we are determined to have the last word.
Ever notice that getting in the last word usually makes the conflict worse? Contrast that to if the other person says something less than complimentary, when we resist the urge to strike back, and instead bite our tongue. Often the other person sees our restraint and backs off as well.
I believe contemporary ‘wisdom’ about the value of sharing our thoughts and emotions is overrated – with customers, and with loved ones. Yes, there are times and places to have serious discussions about serious issues. But as I’ve pointed out before with my trusted advisor communication tips, for most of life’s little frustrations, often holding our piece, means holding on to peace. What if we let others have the last word?
When helping customers make buying decisions, we of course need to come up with options that are going to fit their budget. The problem is we can sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot, depending on how we ask…
Q. “How much do you want to spend?”
A. Nothing. I don’t want to spend any money. I want to get this as cheap as possible.
Q. “What’s your budget?”
A. None of your business. Just tell me your prices and I’ll decide if you’re in the ballpark.
Note - customers likely won’t say these out loud. This is their inside voice.
Having delivered trusted advisor customer service and sales training programs for over 30 years, I’ve often learned as much from clients as they’ve learned from me. As a way of passing it forward, here are two alternative phrases that I’ve learned from my clients when asking about budgets. Fyi, these have been field tested with even skeptical, reluctant customers:
“What price range are you comfortable with?”
“Is there a budget I should be aware of?”
Either of these phrases is more apt to get you the numbers you’ll need without causing offence. And they avoid encouraging customers to lowball their estimate. Not bad results for adjusting a few words.
Congratulations – you just made a sale! That’s the good news. The bad news is a onetime sale is no guarantee that the customer will return. Nor will they necessarily refer you. Fortunately, as I share in this video, there are 4 simple, low-cost ways you and your team members can convert onetime buyers into lifelong customers. Plus, these same tips will help generate more referrals and positive reviews.
Imagine a survey reveals that 96% of your customers are satisfied with your service. This is where I often see managers assuming that the company is doing great. They jump to the conclusion that with a 96% satisfaction rating they’re getting an A+ score from customers. Actually, the survey only showed that a lot of customers consider the service to be adequate. Customers are not saying that they were impressed or delighted or even pleased-merely that they were satisfied. Imagine your sweetheart talking to a close friend and describing you as being adequate. You’d probably see that as a reason for concern! It certainly isn’t a reason to think you’re getting an A+ performance rating. I wonder… what does your customer feedback really say?
Here’s a novel idea I learned at a conference where I was invited to lead a session on how to motivate customer service staff. Since all the attendees were seasoned business owners and managers, the conference organizers asked me to facilitate an exchange of best practices, as well as adding my own process for improving the service culture. One manager shared that he now schedules his job interviews for Saturday mornings – at 6am! He says only a fraction of the people who apply actually show up, but those who do are already more reliable and have a better work ethic than the rest of the candidates. Makes sense… the first step to having a motivated team is to hire motivated people.
No doubt you’ve been hearing lots about staffing shortages. One reason for employee turnover is dealing with customers who are frustrated by supply chain delays and price increases. One misspoken word with an angry customer can set them off. That’s why in this video I’m sharing 5 tips for getting angry customers to back down – without being rude.
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Years ago on a family vacation, the sign for a roadside ice-cream shop surprised me. The sign facing the highway featured in large letters, “PUBLIC RESTROOMS”. I also noticed the place was packed with customers ordering-up their 14 flavours. Interesting how by offering their restrooms to the world, the world was rewarding them. Yet so often businesses have negative signs like, “Restrooms for customers only”, "No refunds w/o receipt”, “Cancelled appointments will be charged”, etc. I believe too many managers cling to an attitude of scarcity. They are so afraid of minor losses and incidental costs that they literally post signs that annoy customers. There are costs of doing business. Rather than fighting them, maybe we should do the opposite – embrace an attitude of abundance and create policies and signage that errs on the side of generosity. Sometimes, as with the ice cream store, nice folks do finish first.
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