How to be happier at work when dealing with awkward customers


If part of your job is to be either face-to-face with customers, or perhaps dealing with them over the telephone, you’ll know how that awkward person or difficult moment can ruin you day. Here are just three tips you can use to help you deal with such situations – they can also apply to unhappy colleague moments as well!

Change your own mindset when such a situation arises

If someone is being awkward, perhaps shouting through frustration, it’s very easy to be annoyed at this complaining customer. Sub-consciously, this makes it more difficult for you to deal effectively with this person, because you’re actually feeling sorry for yourself. Change your thinking to “I’m annoyed that this customer is unhappy” and you give yourself a better chance to see it from their point of view. Whether the person is right or wrong, their starting point is the only one from which a problem can begin to be solved and mutual happiness (or at least a reduction of misery) be achieved.

Aim to tell people what you can do rather than emphasising what you can’t


This doesn’t mean that you can always do exactly what is asked of you, but it does turn a “problem” situation into a “trying to find an answer” one. At the same time, it’s possible to deflect anger by offering viable alternatives. In this way, you help the complainer to refocus as well. “I want a refund plus compensation!” – “We can certainly offer a full refund, or perhaps you’d prefer us to replace it with a new model. Which would be better for you?”

Use a result-process statement and question to move a complaint forward


Often, given the chance, an unhappy customer simply repeats their moan (and this also increases its importance in their mind). A happier outcome needs to move the process forward. You tell the person you are aiming for the result they want, and then ask a process question: “I want to make sure I solve this problem. To help me do so, can I ask a few questions to make sure I know exactly what has happened?” You are signposting to that person that you are taking their problem seriously.

Complaints make everyone unhappy; you from having to deal with it, your customer who didn’t want to have the problem in the first place. A final thought to make you happy – when a problem is solved, the customer often thinks more of your company (and you) than if it had never happened. This is because there is often an expectation of a bad outcome when complaining. These tips help turn this perception on its head.



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