Customer service excellence is the ultimate goal customer service representatives of any organization, conglomerate or startup, aim to accomplish. In a perfectly logical world, every interaction could be made impeccable with just the right formula. However, this is impossible since humans can be complicated and unpredictable. It has been recurrently proven that people tend to be less rational and more emotional in certain situations. Now if customer service representatives were impassive machines, the whole scenario would become much easier. But the fact is, we have emotionally charged humans on both ends of the customer service experience. In the case of a customer being enraged about a certain situation, they are most likely to take it out on the first person they get hold of representing the organization, which inevitably is a customer service representative. As a support representative, losing your cool could cost you your job. So what can you do to deal with difficult customers while being able to control your temper?
There are scenarios where you will be unaware of the underlying cause of a customer’s outburst. Remember, they don’t have anything personal against you, they are mad about a situation. Do not take it personally, instead be a good listener and let them vent out. Try not to interrupt until they are done. Once a customer has communicated their concerns, respond with an apologetic attitude towards their bad experience and assure them you understand how they feel even if you do not agree with them.
Emotional intelligence goes a long way in understanding the needs of your customers and responding intelligently. While the customer is angry, you have to keep yourself calm and understand why the customer is reacting in such a manner and ensure them that you understand. An empathetic response such as ‘I completely understand how you feel’ would make the customer feel more important compared to a response like ‘Yeah, it would make me angry too.’ It will assure the customer that your entire focus is on them and you understand the exclusivity of their situation.
Ask the customer to share details of their experience and make an effort to understand why the strong reaction. Frustrated burnouts from the customer’s end are usually a result of them feeling that the organization is indifferent towards their problem or sentiments. Extending a sincere invitation to talk about what happened, often calms down most people as their sense of being uncared for diminishes. They feel respected and are more likely to believe you are genuinely interested in solving their problem.
We habitually believe that our emotions ‘happen’ because of an external factor. Psychological studies confirm that human emotions are not an automatic response, but rather sprout from the way we think about an incident – which means one can learn to consciously control them. When we are upset, our brain can become overly dramatic. Remind yourself that it is a temporary unpleasant phase that will go away. Reacting to it will not fix it and perhaps is more likely to exacerbate the negativity.
However bad or stressful a customer service experience may turn into, you are not alone. Your fellow colleagues have definitely gone through similar situations, if not exactly the same. Share your concerns with your colleagues and learn from their experiences. Discuss strategies they use to handle difficult customers and how you can implement them to your specific scenario. Not only will it help resolve your situation but it will also help you bond as a team and provide better service.
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