Crisis management: 7 tips for dealing with dissatisfied customers

customer service

Answering questions and solving problems is your profession – but difficulties or misunderstandings can’t always be fully avoided when dealing with customers. And this is no problem – as long as you know how to handle such situations and how to best communicate with your customers. With these 7 tips, you’ll be prepared for even the worst dilemmas.

With these 7 tips, you'll be prepared for dealing with dissatisfied customers

Even if you always come across as professional and polite and follow every rule for successful communication with customers, it can always happen that a customer you’re talking to on the phone isn’t satisfied or even gets angry. Usually, this has nothing to do with you. Still, you should know some rules and courses of conduct that you can consider and apply. These 7 tips will help you react professionally, mediate in a solution-oriented manner and not take criticism personally in difficult moments.

1. Actively listen to the problem!

Rule number 1 in customer communication also applies to crisis management: If a customer calls and is already upset and angry, start by attentively listening and try to understand the reason for their anger as well as the problem behind it. Always let your customer finish, demonstrate attentiveness with short expressions of agreement or understanding and repeat the core statements of your counterpart at the end to prevent further misunderstandings. This way, you show your customers that you take them and their problem seriously right from the start.

2. Be understanding of your customers’ irritation!

From the very start, try to empathize with your customer’s situation and show them that you understand their anger and dissatisfaction. Remember: you are your customers’ partner, not their enemy – not even if your counterpart makes an improper remark or loses their temper. Always communicate to your customers that you are on their side and that it’s your job to find a solution for them and their problem. For this, use expressions like “I can completely understand why you are disappointed” or “I’m sure that we can quickly solve your problem”. This way, you create trust and demonstrate your cooperative and solution-oriented attitude.

3. Don’t take accusations personally!

Even if it may sound easier than it is: Try not to take your customers’ complaints personally, but always maintain a professional distance between your personal and occupational position. Usually your customers’ anger is not directed towards you anyway, but at a product or company. And should you really have phrased something wrongly or overlooked something – this is only human and is a part of life, after all. In such cases, always admit your mistakes openly and don’t try to downplay or even cover them up. What is important is that you’ll pay more attention next time and learn from situations like these.

4. Apologize – on behalf of the company!

If you customer is rightfully disappointed or angry, sincerely apologize on behalf of your company. Don’t try to cover up shortcomings, but be open about any mistakes that might have occurred, admit to them and try to provide suitable solutions. In doing so, respond to the wishes and needs of your customers and purposefully ask what you can do to improve their situation. Always remember: You are responsible for the solution, not for the problem!

5. Don’t justify yourself!

Being open with accusations and shortcomings doesn’t mean that you should justify yourself or your company for it – certainly not emotionally. Always remember the old Windsor motto “Never complain, never explain” – this also applies for customer service. In other words: never respond to provocations or even insults and always keep your own opinion to yourself. This way, you will always remain professional and avoid improper discussions.

6. If you don’t know what to do, refer to the appropriate person!

Honesty is the be-all and end-all of customer service. So if you happen not to know what to do while solving a problem, openly admit this and refer your customer to the appropriate person instead of concealing your insecurity and passing on faulty or incomplete information. Your customers will value your honestly and be thankful that you are seeking the fastest and best possible solution to their problem.

7. Keep smiling – even if your customers don’t see you!

A friendly and cheerful demeanor is part of your professional DNA anyway and especially in critical situations, it can break the ice and feel disarming. Because if your customers think that you are approachable and sympathetic, their irritation will often be only half as bad. With this, you don’t take your customers’ problems any less seriously – on the contrary! After all, if there’s a good mood during the conversation, it’s possible to find suitable and satisfying solutions more quickly. Here’s a tip: always smile when talking to your customers. Even if they can’t see you, they can hear it in your voice. This way, you’ll come across as polite and in a good mood and this rubs off on your customers. With a smile, you not only bring joy to others, but also to yourself. Because that way you stay positive, cheerful and relaxed – even if the situation is tricky.

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