"Now I understand the
secret of correcting the attitude of others and this is to correct my own."
A woman stands on the other
side of the counter yelling at you. "Your product is lousy. It fell apart the
first time I used it", she says. An angry man demands to know what you personally
are going to do about the repair job your serviceman botched. An upset customer
calls, using profane language on the phone. The man indicates your business
can never do anything right. An individual without a receipt demands to know
what do you mean you can't give me a full refund? The product they wish to return
has been on sale several times in the last three months. A woman insists that
everything you served had either a hair or bug in it. Of course she only points
this out after she has eaten the entire meal.
All of these customer experiences
are real. If you have never been on the receiving end of a customer's anger,
you have observed similar situations in other businesses establishments. Negative
customer attention and attitudes create a challenge for anyone. It is difficult
to maintain your temper and a positive attitude when an irate customer directs
their anger and frustration at you. Most people take the experience personally
and immediately become defensive. Often this only exasperates a difficult situation
and makes it worse. Your challenge as your company's representative is to provide
a viable solution in a positive way. Successful customer service transforms
the difficult client into a satisfied walking advertisement for you!
A positive attitude and
response to a potentially volatile situation may well be the driving force that
helps you overcome the 3-11 Customer Rule. A satisfied customer will tell three
people your business is wonderful. A dissatisfied customer will tell up to eleven
your business is terrible. The image of your company and how well you work with
your customers is often based on experiences others share. A positive upbeat
attitude in all situations will go a long way to help you maintain a positive
professional business image.
Tough customers are a challenge.
There are simple techniques however, to turn a negative customer into a positive
one. Every staff member who has contact with the public needs to be trained
to use the techniques effectively. The next time you encounter a difficult customer,
take these simple action steps.
- Use positive words.
When you restate
and acknowledge a customer's complaint, avoid the use of words like trouble
or problem. Try instead a situation or a challenge. Repeated use of negative
words reinforces the customer's perception that there really is something
wrong and maybe your organization will not be able to fix it.
- Eliminate your emotions.
Do not take
the person's anger personally. The customer is usually upset with the situation,
not you. Use a calm, even, pleasant voice. Your level headed approach while
under fire will assist the clients to control their own emotions. The customer's
anger and frustrations will increase if your emotions are elevated.
- Create solutions.
Most people want a problem solved. Additionally, customers do not want to
compromise their values or feelings to have the situation resolved. Offer
a workable solution. This indicates your organization is concerned about the
individual, their time and the issue, not just making a dollar.
- Give the customer
choices. Establish more then one alternative or solution to a challenge.
Give the customer the opportunity to select how they want the situation resolved.
People want to be in control of a situation, especially when effects them
personally. When you give the customer choices, they feel better about themselves
- Transfer positive
customer service occurs when you are able to turn negative feelings into positive
ones. Show a willingness to work with the client. Use a positive attitude
no matter how negative the customer may be. Ultimately the customer will feel
good about your organization because you have not belittled them personally.
When a client feels good, they also feel successful and will want to return.
- Focus on what you
like about the customer.
When a customer is upset with you or your organization, it is easy to focus
on what we dislike about the individual. Our thoughts may turn to how fat
we think they are, what an ugly shirt they are wearing, or we think their
hair color is terrible. No matter how difficult the customer may be, always
find something positive about the individual. It will help keep your attitude
positive and make the customer feel valued.
- Say what you can
the options for the client. Tell them what you can do rather than what you
can't. For example instead of saying we do not accept personal checks say
we'll gladly accept your cash or credit card. The second statement is much
more pleasant to hear.
- Present a positive
image. A neat
and clean business environment projects a positive nonverbal message to your
customers. Your positive physical image states, we take care of our facility
and staff so we are able to take care of you our client. A disorganized and
unclean business facility will turn people away and will leave them doubting
your ability to handle challenges that may arise.
No business or organization
is immune to a customer with a complaint. How fast you respond to the situation
and the attitude you and your staff display, can turn negative customers into
positive walking advertisements for your company. You have no control over how
a customer will react to your product or services. You can however, choose your
attitude and how you respond to an individual. This will have a major impact
on how the customer responds in the future. Focus on the positive to insure
your business presents a caring customer service image.
For permission to print
How to Make a Difference by Focusing on the Positive in your company
newsletter or professional journal, contact
Eileen. Ms. Brownell is also willing to customize articles for your specific
© 1999 Eileen O. Brownell. All Rights Reserved.