Like it or not, difficult customers are bound to appear in your life every now and again. Whether they are unreasonable or rightfully upset, dealing with difficult customers is never fun. That said, a business reality you can’t ignore is that customers are the livelihood of your business, and dealing with them is simply part of the job. How you deal with them, however, is a choice that’s up to you. Instead of dreading your next difficult customer experience, aim to embrace what you can learn from it – and how to similar experiences in the future.
1. Difficult Customers Introduce Businesses to Their Own Weaknesses
Have you ever had a customer that brought something to your attention that while not ideal, allowed you to view something in your business structure that wasn’t working well? Often, it takes a customer to identify a weakness in your business model in order for businesses to react to it. Whether it’s an employee who isn’t serving your company well or a product that isn’t delivering upon expectation or an experience that left a sour taste in your customer’s mouth, wouldn’t you want to know what it is that’s going on in your business?
The perception and experiences customers have with your business are distinctly different than your own perceptions and experiences, so hearing from a customer and gaining their firsthand point of view is actually a benefit to your own business leadership. Rather than shun these customers away and try to quickly dismiss them from your responsibilities, embrace what they have to say. Truly listen and let them know you have done just that – helping to ensure them that you care about what they have to say and want to improve upon your future efforts so that what they experienced will not happen again.
2.Difficult Customers Help Us Better Appreciate Those That Aren’t Difficult
It’s easy to go about your routine without really take time to appreciate your customers – and I’m not referring to the difficult ones. Instead, consider all those other customers – hopefully the majority of your customers – that consume the most of your time. These customers – the bread and butter of your business, if you will – are a big part of your business success and at the very least, livelihood. Appreciating their presence in your business is easy to overlook, but when difficult customers enter the picture, suddenly they become among your favorite folks to deal with.
Showing stronger appreciation to your loyal customers is a great way to build strength in your business, gain valuable customer retention and deal with the difficult customers that may weave in and out of your business every now and again. Very simply, this can also help put your customer service at large into perspective.
3. Difficult Customers Force Us to Slow Down
Everyday is a race to get everything done on our to-do-lists. But what happens when our race is suddenly – and not willingly – interrupted? We’re forced to slow down. And quite frankly, that’s what difficult customers force employees to do, as well.
Difficult customers push us to corners that we may not want to go to, but often have to. We’re forced to look at something from another person’s perspective, and even if they are rude, unreasonable or simply wrong, we still have to take the time to deal with it. Slowing down from our everyday routine to navigate difficult customer’s isn’t always ideal, but it does slow us down. And in many ways, this is a blessing in disguise.
When slowing down, consider what you can do to maximize those moments. Listen. Learn. And react with patience and care versus frustration and resentment. We know not every difficult customer is in the “right”, but delivering a “wrong” experience won’t help the situation, either.
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Author of Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business, as well as the Founder of Retail Minded and the Independent Retailer Conference.
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