A ton of material has been written about the value of good customer relationships. Happy customers are the leading source of repeat business, improved business growth, increased employee motivation and satisfaction, and other benefits that naturally follow satisfied customers.
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But what happens when your happy customer is replaced by a grumpy and angry customer who relentlessly plasters negativity all over your website, blog, review sites, and social media accounts? Of course, nothing good can come out of this. Over 25% of potential customers check out a company’s reviews on social media and a further 48% prowl review sites for ratings and reviews before buying a product or service from a company.
With such significant numbers always looking out for opinions on the internet, one difficult customer can bring down a significant portion of your business, even when you’re doing everything right to ensure customers are satisfied.
So, apart from deleting their comments, ignoring them or closing down your company’s Facebook account, what can you practically do to salvage the situation?
Here’s how you can handle the most difficult customers and turn the tide in your favour.
1. Measure up the situation and determine if you should respond
There are only a few number of times that you should never respond to inquiries from angry or difficult customers, like when a customer taunts and trolls to get you to react. Otherwise, you should always respond to negative comments and difficult customers, no matter how bad they go off on you.
In most of these cases, ignoring the situation will not make the negative comments go away, and may even aggravate the situation as other people become involved. Respond as fast as you can so that the enraged customer knows that their message has hit home.
When you respond, make sure the customer knows they have won so that you don’t drag out the exchange for longer than is necessary.
2. Don’t be a robot
Whatever you do, don’t use those lame company response templates that you can just copy and paste. This is one of the surest ways to get the already angry customer even angrier. Show the customer that you empathize with them and that you care, even if you’re sure they are out of line.
Make the interaction more personal by introducing yourself with your real name and apologizing. This will help the customer realize that they are being difficult on good old simple you, and not the conglomerate they were venting about.
3. Be a problem solver
There are some industries where customers are already preconditioned to be angry and frustrated for reasons beyond your control. For instance, loan officers in banks and companies that deal with bad credit usually meet customers that are already in some form of difficulty, like a failing business or problems meeting financial obligations.
If you work in such industries, always remember to present solutions in a quick and practical manner. A difficult customer is sometimes only looking for someone to take away the pain. Explain to them how you will help them and ask them for suggestions on what you can do to take away the pain.
4. Exceed their expectations
Exceeding your customers’ expectations is a crucial element when establishing and maintaining good customer relationships. So with difficult customers, always try to exceed their expectations so that they don’t have anything to complain about. Commit your time to listen and understand their issues and solve them promptly before they escalate.
Don’t let emails, reviews, queries, and comments go answered for over 15 minutes whenever you can. If you have high traffic, set a minimum and maximum time standard for replies and stick to it unless there are raging issues. Keep track of products and services offered to your customers so that you’ll know when they arrive late or service was poor. This will give you the ability to mitigate the problem before it ever occurs, potentially preventing a happy customer from becoming an angry one.
When resolving issues with demanding or difficult customers online, always imagine you are responding to an audience, since you most likely are. Visitors will be going through your public altercations on social media long after they have been resolved, so always keep that in mind when responding.
If you need more ideas and tips about handling difficult, angry customers, check out this customer service infographic. And no matter how bad it gets, remember to keep your cool and be nice even when the customer drags your brand through the murky waters of the digital world.