Psychological Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers

Psychological Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers1

The symptoms that customers are getting frustrated include short replies, heavy sighs and crossed arms that show that they are losing interest in what you are saying. This should sound alarming bells for your business that might be in deep trouble.

However, it is often difficult to know when your customer is angry as sometimes, they may not express frustration but have emotions that are tied to external situations and psychological factors. 

Therefore, it important to put your communication skills to work and read your customers’ psychology by following these seven psychological strategies-

Practice or Use Reflective Listening Techniques

Reflective listening helps you in understanding what the customer or the other person is saying by interpreting their words and their body language. 

It involves responding and reflecting back on the thoughts and feelings that you heard back from your customer. 

You have to understand their deeper sentiments and then ask the customer to express his views independently even though you should not make promises to fix the situation. The goal should be to make your customers feel valued and heard.

Understand or Tap Into The Beginner’s Mind

The beginner’s mind also known as the Zen mind is the technique of approaching every situation as if you are a novice. By adopting this way of thinking, you can enter into every conversation with “do not know” mind that helps you avoid prejudging a customer or a situation.

The Zen mind helps you in avoiding as if you are an expert even though you might be an expert in customer service but you may not be an expert in a particular customer’s situation or conversation you are currently engaged in. 

Avoid prejudging your customer’s frustration and view each conversation as a new challenge to be faced with impunity.

Avoid The Fear Of a Negative Outcome

Fear of negative outcomes forces us to control things which should be avoided at all costs. In case, a customer is difficult to deal with, then one should not be afraid of challenging him or her with an inherent risk of losing a relationship due to our inability to fix the situation. 

However, it is important to let go the idea that you need to fix anything and as such, you should sit with the difficult customer to listen, understand his or her actual grievances patiently and saying that you appreciate his/her patience and would work to resolve the matter as soon as possible

Breaking Up or Chunking Of The Tasks

Organizing the daily tasks into manageable portions is known as chunking and is equally helpful in managing the challenging problems of your customers. 

Big problems of your customers when broken into smaller tasks make it easier to get things moving.

Dealing With Your Customer’s Anger

When faced with an angry customer you should avoid the tendency to justify your position but must be able to understand that the concerned customer is only feeling undervalued and attempting to control the situation. 

You should take your customer’s frustration seriously but not personally. Staying calm and listening patiently to what a customer is saying is required in understanding their frustration. 

Thank the customers for communicating their feeling (anger) and give them the time to cool off. Apprise them that you will get back to them with a solution.

Maintain Calm and Proceed

The idiom that “the customer is always right” still holds true even to this day and when in conflict with a customer, it is always advisable to remain calm without expecting friendliness and understanding in return. 

Emotional intelligence can be used to calm the anger of your customer by following tips such as – 

(I) maintain a calm and professional approach without losing your assertiveness 

(II) refrain from finger-pointing 

(III) never say any word or write anything that may be used against you 

(IV) resolve disputes over the phone or in-person but not through email

Affect Heuristic

Affect heuristic is a technique that involves making effective and quick decisions based on your feeling towards a situation, person or thing. 

So, when it comes to dealing with customers, affect heuristic will help you in understanding the root cause of your customers’ apprehensions by asking few questions to the customers that would entice them to believe your worthiness and be ready to move forward with you.

Questions such as – 

“What can I do to relieve your fears?”,

“How can I help you feel comfortable enough to move forward? , 

“Tell me more about why you are skeptical ?” will help your customer relax and the reasons for unwillingness to move forward with you. 

Therefore, it can be concluded that one can use these tips to communicate with difficult customers. 

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