Regardless of the business we all have had our encounters with disgruntled customers. In retail it’s inevitable, no matter how wonderful your products are or how committed you are to provide the best customer service, problems do occur. Try to diffuse a difficult situation with the following tips:

  • Stay Calm and Non Emotional – When a customer is upset, remember it’s not a personal attack. Listen as they talk through the problem, the customer will realize that you are genuinely interested in helping them. Eventually they will calm down and there may be a practical win-win solution.
  • Empathy – Once you understand why the customer is upset, apologize. Even if you don’t agree with their complaint, you are at least letting them know you validate them and will work towards a resolution. This also separates the emotion from the problem. While apologizing, restate your understanding of the problem. Try to stand in their shoes in order to fully feel their pain.
  • Customer Resolution – Your store should have a protocol in place to prepare your staff on how to deal with customer service issues. As we all know, not all issues are the same therefore all remedies must be different and creative. Empower your staff through training on how to make practical and cost effective resolutions without running to management or giving up the store.
  • Follow Up – Whatever promises are made, make sure you follow-up. The worst thing you can do is make a deal with a disgruntled customer and make it worse by not following through on the new deal. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver!
  • Learn from Mistakes – Dealing with unpleasant customers should be a learning experience. Customer feedback should be viewed as an opportunity for change. Keep in mind that not all customers can be pleased. Some are just complainers and nothing you do will change that. However, everything you can correct about an uncomfortable situation will help future events. Review past and current experiences that have led to both favorable and unfavorable results. Use those situations with staff to help them understand the art of negotiation and customer satisfaction the ends in a Win-Win.

One thing I remind staff, a legitimate customer problem leads to an opportunity to prove yourself as a “Trusted Advisor”. When a customer can trust you they will serve you by being a loyal patron to your business and communicate with friends and family the pleasant and accommodating experience they had with you and your staff.