How To Manage Challenging Customer Conversations

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a serious impact on society, the economy and our customers, you might be having more challenging customer conversations than usual.

It may be delivering bad news to a customer, fielding more complaints or your customers simply being quicker to become angry.

The key principles below offer you a framework to manage a challenging conversation in a way that generates trust and mutual understanding, transforming a difficult situation into a positive service experience.

You can shift these conversations from something you might dread – to something you handle with confidence.

  • Make it personal: Create a professional atmosphere and communicate clearly. Show that you understand and appreciate the situation. Be believable and reliable.
  • Keep it simple: Use simple and clear language and avoid jargon.
  • Respond quickly: Listen carefully so you can react quickly to the customer’s enquiry. Answer calls, emails etc. as fast as possible to resolve issues.
  • Be entrepreneurial: Try to find a win-win situation whenever possible and make decisions that are in the best interests for both of you.

In addition, each conversation should consist of the following four elements:

  • Greet: Answer the call politely and demonstrate your willingness to help.
  • Get: Gather and confirm key information. Ask 2 or 3 questions about the customer’s situation. Confirm back to them to make sure you’ve understood correctly.
  • Give: Provide information on potential solutions. Demonstrate empathy with the customer. Restate your willingness to help.
  • Go: Summarise and agree next steps for both you and the customer.

If you conduct the conversation in a calm and sensible fashion most customers will accept that you are trying to help them. However, there will be times when the customer’s worry or concerns boil over into emotion, such as shouting at you, blaming you, personally insulting you, or even crying. It’s important that you:

  • Don’t take it personally. Stay calm and professional.
  • Don’t get drawn into an argument.
  • Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes (to understand why they are so anxious/scared).
  • Only apologise if you (or your company) has actually made a mistake.
  • When delivering bad news, try to offer options – either to resolve the current situation or prevent a reoccurrence.

At Miradorus we have many years’ experience helping businesses and individuals manage challenging conversations. As we ourselves look at adapting how we do business, we’ve been working closely with our clients to adapt our programmes to virtual delivery and are pleased to say this is getting the same stellar feedback as our in-person training, as the comments below from participants during a recent virtual workshop show:

“The time we spent as a group sharing our experiences was a real ‘stop the world’ moment. I went into my next call feeling refreshed and energised!”

”I really enjoyed that session, and loved the breakout rooms!”
You don’t have to wait until in-person training becomes viable again – a bespoke virtual training can have the impact you desire.

Contact us to book a free one-hour consultation to discover how we could help you and your front-line team manage challenging conversations and deliver a great service experience.

Jenny Powell

Director, Miradorus