Written by Sean McPheat |
Human beings have never and will never be predictable animals. What to one person will be a bit of a nuisance may well be tantamount to being the end of the world to another.
Certain people have standards that need to be kept, and if they’re not it can cause them to lose their temper or be aggressive. The reason is they feel reacting the way they do is the best way to get what they want or need to rectify the situation.
It might be difficult to deal with when a customer becomes angry, but it’s even harder when they become explosively so. By that, I’m referring to customers who swear, shout, offer threats or throw their weight around.
What can you do when the customer has lost their rag? You’re told to remain professional and offer great customer service, but what if the customer goes over the top?
One thing you shouldn’t do is tell the customer to calm down.
They are acting this way because they feel they have been let down, embarrassed, or their rules or standards have not been met. Telling them that they should behave differently is like telling them they are wrong and their behaviour should change.
Remember, when a person is angry or highly-charged, they are not able to think straight. The emotional brain takes over and the rationale brain does not compute requests to think logically.
Instead, try this: Allow the customer to vent their feelings while standing tall, giving good eye contact and attempting to understand exactly what the position is from their standpoint.
It’s doubtful if the prospect will be absolutely clear on the facts if they are so angry, so make quick mental notes (or on paper, if possible) of what precisely has gone wrong but what might still need to be cleared up.
See if you can match the tempo of the person. Note it’s the tempo, not the temper that you match. By matching the speed of the customer’s approach, you appeal to their subliminal reflexes that make them feel you understand and are on their wavelength.
Get them to calm down by asking specific questions that make them use their rational-thinking brain. This will make them revert away from the emotion attached to the situation and make them start to think about specifics. You’ll notice the anger start to be put aside as they have to think about specific facts, not opinions.
After you’ve found out the facts and identified what needs ton be done, saying something like:
“I’m really sorry this has happened. This is what we’re going to do about it…”
By making this statement:
1) You’re apologising for the situation, not apportioning blame
2) You’re saying that action will be taken and you’ll explain what that action will be.
This allows you to regain control and helps the customer think through a solution to the problem. Although the customer feels they are entitled to their anger, most will want an answer. If you are able to offer that control and some action, there may well be a turnaround as you see the customer’s mood change.
Although always a difficult challenge to face, by finding out what the customer really wants from the situation, your controlling action-oriented progress will help them see that the anger may be better utilised somewhere else.
Originally published: 5 November, 2014
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