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Jennifer  Livingston

Jennifer Livingston Consultant

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How to Deal With Unhappy Customers

Joe strolls into the home insurance office where he works as a salesman. It is early in the morning, and he has a cup of coffee in his hand. He feels energized and ready to make some sales.

He opens up his email and starts responding to a customers question when all of a sudden the sound of the doorbell catches his attention. He looks up, a smile on his face, and greets the customer. The customer appears to be in a hurry and stressed. A few drops of sweat slide down the customer's face as he approaches Joe's desk.

Before Joe has the opportunity to open his mouth and speak, the customer erupts into an angry tirade claiming that he never agreed to the new home insurance quotes and he needs to be issued a refund.

Without losing his cool Joe tries to calm down the angry customer. He pulls up the customer's insurance account and politely tries to explain why the rates have changed. After repeating himself several times and the customer's volume only getting louder, Joe raises his voice and tells the customer nothing can be done to refund him. The customer immediately gives Joe a death stare and storms out of the building. The customer announces to the room that he will never do business with the insurance company ever again, and he will never recommend their services to his friends and family. The manager then abruptly walks out of his office with a puzzled look on his face after hearing all the commotion in the lobby and sits next to Joe in an attempt to figure out what went wrong with the customer.

How could Joe have handled the situation differently? Should he have called the manager right away? How could Joe have better helped the angry customer?

Many of us have worked a job that requires us to interact with the public on a daily basis, and its never easy. Our patience is constantly tested. But if you know what to say, when to say it, you may be better able to calm an unhappy customer.

Check out these tips to adjust your mindset so that you are always giving a work situation your undivided attention.


1) View the problem from another person's perspective

When a work situation gets heated, take a step back, breathe, and try to understand why a customer might be mad. Step into their shoes for a second. Is there a valid reason for their outburst of anger?

Tuck away feelings of this is unfair, I don't get paid enough to handle this, or the customer is giving me unfair criticism.

2) Listen first, ask questions later

Humans have two ears and one mouth for a reason. A salesperson must be an active listener at all times. Listen to what the client has to say before you make any unnecessary judgments. Sometimes the client just wants to be heard. They could provide important feedback about an internal work problem occurring within the chain of command that you were previously unaware was happening. Do not start planning out how you are going to respond while the customer is still talking.

3) Repeat the customer's concerns

Once the customer has finished their rant, repeat their concerns as you are answering their questions to ensure that you are addressing the right problem. It is okay to ask the customer questions to make sure you understood them correctly. They will appreciate it. Start your response sentences with, "correct me if I am wrong..., "If I heard you correctly..., From what I heard, you are....

4) Maintain good eye contact and body posture

When a customer is speaking to you, look them directly in the eye. Respond with head movements to show that you are actively listening to what they have to say. Sit up straight and do not slouch.


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