In today’s fast changing business world, customer service has long been identified as one of the most outstanding ways of building a sustainable business. This is true because customers are the life blood of every business; almost everything a business does is highly dependent on them. They have the inherent capacity to make or mar the success of a business.
As an entrepreneur, in the course of your business, it is a certainty that you must come across some very difficult customers who are very expensive to maintain. In customer relationship management, during customer segmentation, these kinds belong to the bronze category. And as a business consultant, I always advice my clients to do either of two things when they come across this kind of customers – Tame them or fire them. While some clients choose the former, others choose the latter.
Listed below are four effective ways to deal effectively with the very difficult customers.
- Assess the situation properly.
As humans, it is very common for us to jump right into problematic situations head on and proffer solutions. While this might be effective, it is not always the best approach while dealing with difficult customers. By jumping into the problems, you might get distracted by irrelevant problem details or lose some tiny important details that will help you deal effectively with the difficult situation.
To proffer a good solution to the customers’ problems, the entrepreneur must take a step back to ensure that she is not led down the wrong solution path because of distracting information and silly mistakes. Pausing to assess the situation properly is a great way of attaining success in dealing with highly conflicting situations, especially if your first inclination is to look for the easiest and quickest way out.
Pausing to assess the situation properly gives the entrepreneur clarity of thought, mind confidence and good judgmental powers to come up best solutions for the customers’ problems.
- Always see the problem from the customer’s perspective.
In the second chapter of my book titled ADVANCE, where I discussed the 14 principles of customer relations, I advised entrepreneurs to always see problems from the perspective of the customer. This concept is important because it helps the entrepreneur to walk in the customers’ shoes, understand their pains and think like them. When an entrepreneur does this, she will feel the pains of the customers and find strategic ways of addressing it.
As I have said earlier, everything in business must be tailored toward satisfying the customer. A deeply customer centric organization will always consider the side of the customer whenever a problem arises irrespective of how wrong they are. Argue with your customers at the detriment of your business.
- Focus on the emotional side of the customers
As humans, we are all creatures with emotions. These emotions determine how we react to situations. A right appeal to our emotions can do wonders. And as an entrepreneur, you must understand how to appeal to the emotional side of your customers. An entrepreneur that relegates the emotions of his customers has unconsciously written a premature obituary for his business.
When problems arise with your customers, you must focus on appealing to their emotional sides. Find a way to understand what makes them giddy. For some it might be their children or spouses. For others, it might be their jobs. Appeal to these sides before addressing the situations. The idea is to get them relaxed before you walk into the main thing.
You must also understand that you might not be the main cause of the customers’ problem. In this case, you are just a pretext to vent pent up anger. When this happens, be emotionally tough and sophisticated to absorb the anger thrown at you. After all, this is a part of what entrepreneurship is about.
- Know when to walk out of the relationship
This may sound awkward, but it must be put in perspective when dealing with very difficult customers. However, I advise my clients to use it as the last resort. Some customers are so difficult that dealing with them will sap your organization a large portion of emotional energy.
As an entrepreneur, you must know when to walk out of the business relationship with very difficult customers. You don’t want to keep on pacifying some people at the expense of the health of your business. To gain business sanity, some people are not worth keeping. Check your list, identify them and let them go if possible. You have other important customers to serve.
Before you let some difficult customers go, make sure you have done all you can to make them satisfied. Some difficult customers just need a little attention and care to get them back in shape. Also understand that when these difficult customers are well satisfied, they will automatically become your brand believers and recruit other potential customers for you.
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