The Vital Skill You Must Have To Effectively Handle Difficult Customers

September 19, 2012

Have you been challenged by a ‘difficult’ customer yet? Sooner or later it happens to all of us.

How effectively you deal with this situation is critically important to the success of your business. Here’s why:

The average “wronged customer” will tell 8-l6 people about it. Over 20% will tell more than 20.

– 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.

Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

With so much at stake, it’s vital that you learn what to do, so that when find yourself needing to handle a difficult customer, you will deal with them professionally. Active Listening is the communication skill I have found most useful for this situation.

However, you are not going to learn this skill over night. In reality, most of us are naturally poor listeners, so becoming an effective active listener requires a lot of practice in order to break some bad habits. Putting in the time to master this skill now, will help you to turn those difficult customers into loyal fans of your business.

 There are five key elements of active listening. They all help you ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are hearing what they say.

 1. Pay Attention

Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts.
  • Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.

 2. Show That You’re Listening

Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

 3. Provide Feedback

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.

 Tip:
If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: “I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?”

 4. Defer Judgment

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments.

 5. Respond Appropriately

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.

  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
  • Assert your opinions respectfully.

Treat the other person in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.

To your abundant success,

Leon Skaliotis – Founder, Retail Fundamentals.

Leon Skaliotis is an accomplished retail consulting specialist in Melbourne, Australia, who  successfully coaches Melbourne retail owners on how to create highly profitable businesses by attracting shoppers and converting them into loyal fans.

Take the next step… If you’re thinking of taking your business to the next level and beyond, get on board my individually tailored retail programs. If you’re not happy with your performance, now is the time to build momentum to make the next financial year your best ever. It is possible.

The fast working principles from my exclusive programmes, My Retail Success and The Outside In Method come with a 100%  Satisfaction Guarantee and enable Melbourne retailers to:

  • Attract and Keep more Customers
  • Substantially increase their Profit
  • Increase the Value of each business
  • Free up more of their  Time

To receive your complimentary copy of “Retail Secrets Every Owner Should Know” click: www.retailfundamentals.com.au

You can contact Leon Skaliotis direct on (+61) 0425 83 3344  or email: leon@retailfundamentals.com.au

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