We’ve talked many times about how to help an angry or frustrated client. You TREAT them!
T – Tune in and Listen
R – Respond with Empathy and Regret
E – Explore Solutions and Come to an Agreement
A – Add a Little Extra Kindness
T – Thank the Customer
But often something gets in the way of TREATing the client or customer – we lose our cool and get angry or frustrated. The quickest way to make an already irate customer even more upset is to react negatively to their emotions. So, what can you do to keep your cool and maintain a calm outlook?
First, realize that it isn’t personal. This can be tough, especially if a customer is very vocal in their frustration with the product or service they have received. Do your best to separate the business complaint from your feelings about yourself. Take your customer’s complaint seriously, but not personally. This will help to diffuse the situation in your own mind and it will also help you to listen to the customer’s complaint more objectively without getting defensive. Important note: If you are being personally attacked then remove yourself from the situation and get help!
If you deal with frustrated customers regularly, then it is important to identify your personal triggers and plan ahead. When are you most likely to lose your cool? What are the physical signs that you are frustrated? What stresses you out and makes you more likely to snap? Do you have a ‘long fuse’ or do you lose your temper easily? What are the situations that make you more likely to snap?
The first sign that I am becoming stressed is that my breathing becomes shallow. If I don’t notice this then it progresses to long stretches of holding my breath. My shoulders start to tense and rise up close to my ears. My husband clenches his jaw and pulls his chin in. Everything about his posture tightens. Knowing these signs is extremely helpful in our marriage! If I find myself holding my breath, then I consciously choose to take long slow breaths. I roll my shoulders. My husband will briskly rub his face or get up and do a few stretches to loosen up.
If you can identify the signals your body is sending you before you lose your temper, you have a much better chance of staying calm in stressful work situations.
Avoid the temptation to argue or justify your position. Your customer is feeling undervalued and powerless – arguing will only make the situation worse.
Use body language and emotional signals to diffuse the situation. Humans are wonderfully social animals. Without realizing it, we are constantly mirroring one another. It is difficult to remain hostile toward someone who remains calm and understanding with open ‘how can I help you’ body language. Make eye contact, take notes, uncross your arms, nod your head. This body language signals to your customer that you are being attentive to them. Use a friendly and calm tone of voice. If you are consistent with positive mirroring, the customer will often naturally calm down as well.
Finally, when I am faced with rudeness, aggression, or unkindness in my daily life, I try to remember this quote by Ian Maclaren:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
We all have bad days. Try to approach each unhappy customer with an open mind and a willingness to help.
Brandi Hand, Queen of Visibility, Red-Carpet Learning Systems
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