In the B2B sector, long-term and personal relations with customers are decisive for your success, as not just some anonymous mass market is being addressed. This makes it all the more important for you to remain true to even your complicated business partners. Here are six tips to help you deal with difficult customers.
Dealing with difficult customers: 6 tips
1. Establish professional complaint management
Professional complaint management shows unsatisfied customers that you take them seriously, are understanding of their problems and are willing to take pains to offer a quick solution. This not only contributes to de-escalation, is also helps to strengthen customer relations in the long term. That’s because mistakes are tolerated by business customers more than the act of doing nothing or ignoring the situation. At the same time, complaint management can contribute to boosting the company’s sales, as the potential to improve is put on the table.
2. Remain friendly and professional
It may sound banal, but when it comes to dealing with difficult customers, it is often hard to always remain friendly and professional. Even when the customer attacks you personally, you should not react in the same way. Always speak to the customer with respect and understanding, and let the customer finish what they have to say. Question your viewpoint, without straying from it completely because the customer is, for instance, pressuring you. Put the ball back in their court and ask the customer if they have a solution in mind. And always remember: customers are your friends, not your foes.
Even if it does not reflect your feelings: apologise on behalf of the company for any inconveniences.
3. Apologise and admit mistakes
Even if it does not reflect your feelings: apologise on behalf of the company for any inconveniences the customer may have experienced and signalise in an honest way your willingness to find a solution to the problem. Should you admit to having made a mistake, do so without beating around the bush. This gives the impression of making amends and takes the wind out of the difficult customer’s sails.
4. Communicate proactively
In many cases, you can see it coming that the customer will not be 100% satisfied with the service provided. Simply waiting this out and hoping that the customer doesn’t complain is the worst solution. Contact the customer proactively and offer, for instance, a rebate or another kind of compensation as a form of redress – the situation can often be sorted out in this way before a serious problem ever arises.
5. Communicate via phone, document via email
In times of massive amounts of email communication, the option of telephone contact with the customer is often neglected. However, particularly when it comes to difficult customers, a personal talk as the owner or decision-maker within the company can do wonders. The customer feels they are valued, and any issues can be quickly clarified in this way. The essential points, however, should be protocolled in writing and sent to the customer via email after the talk to prevent any new misunderstandings.
6. Win time
If a professional discussion is no longer possible because the customer is so enraged, ask if you can postpone talking about the issue to a later date. Politely refer to the fact, for instance, that you want to confer with the other departments to be able to offer the customer the best solution. This gives you the opportunity to assess the situation better and give the customer time to calm down.