How to Find the Positives in Negative Customer Interactions

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Today, more than ever, the customer experience is of paramount importance to any business. When you have positive customer interactions, those people become your company’s biggest cheerleaders and supporters. In fact, 94% of customers recognize the impact of customer experience on their impression of a company, so it’s not to be taken lightly.

That being said, every single customer-facing person understands that there are some customers who are more difficult to please than others. When we deal with these people, it can sometimes feel like everything we do is under scrutiny and no matter what, we’re not going to do it right. As someone who takes pride in their work, this can be incredibly frustrating and lead to additional challenges – such as increased stress and eventually even burnout. Instead of getting caught up in the negative, we can find ways to convert those customer interactions into more positive experiences. Here’s how:

Related Topics: How customer experience determines the success of any business

1. Always listen to your customers

When working with a slightly more difficult client, empathy is key. First and foremost, you need to remember that their complaint probably has very little to do with you and that there are probably many things going on in that person’s work and life that you have no idea about.

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Once you remember that, the only way you can really come to terms with them and find a solution that works for both of you is by listening openly and compassionately to their challenges. This is where technology can prevent a positive response. If you’ve been communicating primarily via email or instant messaging up to this point, a lot of context can be lost, which can lead to frustration on both sides.

If challenges persist and you’re unable to find a solution quickly, try calling that customer (or meeting them in person, if possible) to hear their problems in real time. Not only does this give them a chance to see that you are trying hard to solve the problem, but it also provides you with the context you need to understand the root of the problem and ultimately work towards a solution.

2. It’s time to get creative

After understanding your customer’s concerns, the next step is to ask yourself: Is this problem solvable?

Nine times out of ten your answer is probably yes, even if it’s a challenge you’ve never faced before. If this is the case, you should consult your team members across departments to find a creative solution. The more guidance you get from across your organization, especially when tackling a new challenge, the more likely you are to come up with an answer that will satisfy your customer.

Perhaps the answer is that the team needs to reconsider some aspects of the product, or perhaps there was a misunderstanding in the early stages of communicating with the customer that explains the current frustration. Whatever the answer, the only way to find it is if you get to the root of the problem and work your way up from there. This is where members from different departments and backgrounds can help provide context and ideas on aspects of the work that you don’t work on directly.

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Approaching a problem as a creative challenge to solve rather than a negative experience from the start will make the whole situation better. In the end, you will likely not only solve this one customer’s problem, but provide a solution for other customers before any challenges arise.

See Also: 3 Ways to Deal with an Angry Customer That Will Actually Make Them Loyal to Your Brand

3. Work smart but efficiently

When a customer reaches the point where they contact you directly with a complaint, they’re probably looking for an immediate solution. While we can’t always resolve issues immediately, it’s important that you show the customer that you understand the urgency of their request. This not only helps you cross this item off your to-do list more quickly, but also shows the customer that you take their request seriously and value them as a customer.

While you’re working on their issue, especially if it’s a more time-consuming request, it’s also important to communicate too much with them about your status. Customers want to see the momentum and know they’re being heard so they better understand what you’re doing to help them.

4. View everything as a learning experience

The ultimate goal with any difficult customer is to solve their problems and thereby strengthen the relationship. But sometimes this will not be the case. You will always come across clients that you can never fully win over, no matter how hard you try. And that’s okay.

There is always something to learn for these types of particularly difficult interactions. After any negative customer interaction, it’s important to debrief and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a way I could have improved this interaction?

  • Are there other resources I could have turned to to resolve their issues?

  • Did the customer raise legitimate concerns that we should resolve in the future?

  • What can I take away from this interaction so that I can communicate better in the future?

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See also: How to quickly deal with a customer complaint

By taking the time to reflect and internalize how you can improve, you can become a more effective customer communicator in the future. No matter how negative an interaction may seem at the moment, there is always an opportunity to turn it around and find the silver lining.

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