True customer service horror story: You're working the cash register at Chick-fil-A and a woman with a large order gives you a credit card that gets declined, even after you try to swipe it several times. "I'm sorry," you say. "Your card doesn't seem to be working." The customer starts screaming and cussing you out. Everyone in the restaurant turns and stares at you. What do you do?
Restaurant jobs aren’t the only place you’ll encounter nightmare customers. Even when your best customer service skills aren't enough to make an angry customer happy, there are things you can do to make the situation better. Here are some tips to consider when dealing with a difficult customer.
Don't take it personally
Never argue! Remember: it's not about you. Maybe the person in front of you is having a bad day and you just happened to get in their way. Keep a smile on your face and stay positive. Concentrate on the problem at hand and don't get defensive. Let the customer speak. Avoid placing blame.
Listen to what the customer is really saying
It is important to be an active listener. Listen to what the customer is saying and, more importantly, what the customer is not saying. Repeat the customer's complaint so he or she knows you're listening: "So what you're saying is, that card should work fine because you used it earlier today?"
Let the customer vent. The customer is more likely to be responsive if you let him or her vent. Imagine yourself in the customer's shoes and try to be understanding. Be sure to use words like "I understand" and "I can do that," but avoid saying "sorry" too often -- the more you say it the more it loses its meaning.
Identify the issue. Create a solution. Follow up.
Good customer service is a three-step process. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the issue so you can solve the problem. Don't be afraid to ask the customer to identify the issue. Once the issue is understood, ask the customer what would make it better and work together towards a solution. Try to follow up with unhappy customers with a phone call, letter or email. It makes customers feel like they, and their business, are important.
Get your manager's help
Sometimes, no matter what you say or do, a customer just won't calm down. In that case, don't hesitate to get your manager involved. They're trained to deal with difficult customers - that's why they get paid more!
The Chick-fil-A crew member with the cursing customer did all these things. She kept a friendly attitude - which isn't so easy to do when someone is screaming at you. She listened to the customer rant. She asked her manager to step in and tried swiping the card on a different machine.
In the end, the customer realized she had used the wrong credit card - she pulled out the correct card and paid for her sandwiches. Most importantly, she apologized for her outburst and thanked the Chick-fil-A employee for her help. "My pleasure," she replied.