Image by: RyanMcGuire
By Pete Shoemaker
Any upset person is difficult to deal with in the first place. When it happens at work, a situation where your professionalism and patience must come into forceful play, you’ve even smaller room to tip-toe around the problem. You may not even have enough time to speak; a customer is throwing a barrage of complaints over the counter and a quick stare at those angry eyes will soon make you spark and snap… But, no! We know better.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or employee, business can be as invigorating as it is hectic, and it is important to address the hectic part with the same positive embrace. Though it’s not too obvious in the likes of an upset client, your business is alive and thriving, because honest mistakes or complaints may point out to obstacles in its operandi. An upset client is more than an opportunity to mend loose ends in business; it’s a chance to help people in more ways than one by gracefully walking that line between “I’m sorry that happened” and your company’s policy.
These few tips aim at keeping trouble at bay and addressing it quickly when is triggered. They may serve a variety of purposes; from dealing with your employees to developing your business reputation regardless of the number of promotions you’ve had. Good policies and a solution-oriented attitude are keys to dealing with hot-heads at work. Employers and employees alike, as ever aspiring professionals, should mind such advice.
#1) Plan Ahead
Killing with kindness is not putting up a faint and forced smile whenever trouble comes your way. It requires training and knowing its effects. Understand that dealing with people requires immediate familiarity, connection. Greeting customers, identifying names whenever you have the chance, smiling when you speak and knowing your clientele are some ways to develop a diligent and professional character.
Planning ahead for angry customers or troublesome employees requires policy that tackles issues directly by guaranteeing claims be heard and heeded for a double purpose: keeping professional reputation and safeguarding the customer’s experience. Policy determines paperwork to be done in case of complaint filing, refund flexibilities, punishment/reward procedures, etc. There are many ways in which structuring the right bureaucratic procedures may ease down some issues and strengthen your company’s functionality.
Recognize regional identities and seek that your business respects them. If you’re within a busy city environment, know your customers will expect solutions fast and to the point. Country-folk and seniors may be less demanding, or require a few minutes of chit-chat. Adapt your business to your clientele.
#2) Practice Sensitivity & Resilience
Things take a turn for the worse if you engage in arguments. Accept and bond.Mind your body-language by inviting a pleasant connection without actually having to tell the person: straight up posture, front-to-front, arms to the sides and pay close attention. Avoid hands fully in pockets (at least thumbs outside), clenching fists, crossing your arms, smirks, rolling your eyes or looking away. Be mindful of your customer’s feelings and allow him or her to vent.
If it gets out of hand, isolate the problem from other customers and employees. As a supervisor, use an office space. As an employee, you may either ask for a moment with the customer as to at least listen or apologize, or ask for intervention (but keep this as a last resort; you may be able to save your supervisor some trouble).
#3) Listen First, Act Later
The customer’s complaint likely focuses on the performance or quality of your product. After making sure the tone of conversation is within acceptable standards and out of reach from eavesdroppers, grab hold of the issue, his/her name, personality, your silence and (if appropriate) smile when suggesting a solution or hearing a reasonable one. What’s important is that you differentiate yourself from your company enough to avoid taking anything within its boundaries (except harassment) as a personal issue. You are there to defend it, but can only do so much. Know that the problem, even in front of you, is miles away from disturbing your inner peace.
#4) Heading For a Solution
Having kept your attitude positive and receptive, the worst of the storm is over when the most of his/her anger has vented in the first blast. You’ve been quiet, listening and taking notes, paying attention as much as you’d enjoy your customer or employee to keep doing business with you after this is through. Now, let’s address this. Apologize first if necessary; as a representative of your company, humble yourself. “I apologize for the issue, Jane Doe; I’ll get that fixed for you right away” is in essence what you want to make clear.
You may approach the solution in different manners, like asking for a reasonable one. If it’s too obvious (a refund for product failure, a suspension or employee meeting), do it immediately. An expired guarantee, no receipt, ‘refund does not apply’ or notoriously mischievous customers/employees may pose a possible bad twist on the issue; just rest assured that you nor anybody can jump over business policies, thus you’ll be using tools at hand and at minimum cost to better the situation. Employee warnings, mending admission rights, filing a complaint, store credit, product testing before purchase or suggesting other similar products are only a few ways you may solve the predicament.
Get to structuring fool-proof policies (for your company and yourself) in order to keep your business up and running. Tackling issues directly and establishing logical, low cost procedures to come to terms with angry customers and upset employees by fair policing and transparency will help you through any tense situation. Just remember to keep yourself undisturbed by these events and rest assured there is always room in them to improve ourselves as professionals.
Responding wisely to complaints and misunderstandings requires patience from both sides. Which other communication skills could be added to the list? Have you ever been in front of an over-the-top hot-head at work? Write back by commenting and Share Us on Facebook.