Communicating with Difficult Customers

Handling customer communications, especially during this time of the year, can really be challenging.  If you are like me, I am in such a rush to get all the orders out in a timely basis, that I don’t always have my ‘happy voice’ going on in my head …. or out my mouth (just ask my husband if you don’t believe me!).

But during the holidays, even more so than any other time of the year, is an important time to ‘keep your cool’ and not overly react to difficult customers’ Communicating with Difficult Customerscomment and/or requests.  Of course, being rude or just plain over-reacting can cause you to lose sales.  And that same customer has dozens of friends who will probably hear about your heated conversation….. You just don’t want to go there!

So, I did a bit of research to see what other experts are saying about dealing with tough customers (and their requests) and found a great article posted by the Academy of Handmade.

Here are the suggestions made in the article:

The first thing to remember when communicating with customers is that you are not you, you are your business. For new businesses this may be a tricky concept to navigate. You always want to present yourself as a professional….

Everyone is a potential customer. Each person who you communicate with could potentially tell their friends and family about you. You want to be sure you are putting your best foot forward in all communications….

Customers should have all the information available to them, from your product listings to your policies, to make an informed decision about purchasing from your shop.

Many of us do a business through the internet, via a website or social media posting.  That being the case, a majority of our contact with customers is through email.

It is too easy to be snippy with someone when you aren’t talking to the face to face.  (I am sure YOU never do that, but I have, unfortunately!).  To avoid that, I suggest you use a formula that works well for me:  R-B-R.  Relationship, then business, relationship close.  In other words, start out with some pleasantries before and after you discuss your business.

The Academy of Handmade has a great format for expressing this formula in an email:

Greeting
Thanking your customer for their time
Answering the question
Encouraging your customer to respond
Salutation
Name
Business Name

I have found this to be very doable and successful.  Instead of giving that difficult customer a ‘piece of your mind’, you start out thanking them.  Just that simple act can turn your whole attitude around.

And who knows:  That difficult customer could be one of your best future customers!

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