You are doomed to face conflict. It sounds harsh, but it is the unfortunate reality for those working in customer service. No matter how excellent you are at your job, someone at some point is going to direct their anger toward you. The customer is not in fact always right and the responsibility for breaking that news to them, and ensuring they leave happy and are willing to return, falls to you. Conflict resolution is a vital and undeniable part of the customer service role; luckily we’ve devised some tips to help you get through it.
These four solutions for customer service will help guide you down the path to better customer service and happier customer interactions.
1. Acknowledge their complaint
Customers come to you to be heard, and it is your responsibility to listen to them no matter how much you don’t want to. This doesn’t just mean you have to let them finish; you need to actively listen and acknowledge the validity of their problem even if you disagree. The worst thing you could do in a confrontation situation is invalidate what upsets them, leading to further frustration and losing their repeat business.
2. Neutrality is key
Work to solve the customer’s problems, but keep your opinions to a minimum. Once you’ve offered up your opinion you are personally invested and personally responsible. This also makes it easier to avoid taking confrontations with customers personally. Instead keep to the facts, offer empathetic support and actively listen.
3. Move the conversation to a private location
If a customer is angry or the conversation is getting loud, move it to a more private location away from curious ears. Try moving to an empty aisle or to a customer service desk. The last thing you want is a spectacle that distracts other customers and makes the conversation more awkward.
4. Don’t be afraid to call in backup
When a customer wants you to do something for them that you simply can’t do, don’t be afraid to call a supervisor. More often than not, customers are much more willing to accept a no from the boss than a no from an employee. If you can’t calm them, call someone who can.
A huge part of customer service is handling difficult situations. Learning to diffuse conflict requires training and practice because every confrontation with an angry customer will be different than the last. Corporate sales and customer service training are important because they provide a framework that can be used when wading through these interactions. When a customer service rep is facing down an angry customer, they’re on their own and help isn’t always available. Because of this, it is vital that they are armed with the tools and strategies they need to handle any situation.