As much as we might want to believe that everyone is a friend in the world of business, not all interactions with your customers will be friction-free. At some point or another, you may find yourself on the opposite side of a customer. Destiny, they say, is not a final destination but a journey. Likewise, the road to success as an entrepreneur doesn’t end at that first victory. Every business owner experiences ups and downs along the way. And sometimes those downs come in the form of a disgruntled customer who feels wronged by your company. How do you deal with such conflict? Use these tips to resolve any conflict with your customer and keep them coming back for more.
This may seem like an obvious place to start, but it’s critical that as an entrepreneur you understand your customer’s position. Start by listening, and don’t feel the need to jump in immediately to defend yourself or your company. We all want to be heard, and customers are no different. If you truly want to solve the problem and keep them coming back, you’ll need to do more than just address their concerns. You’ll need to listen to their concerns.
Acknowledge the problem
As soon as your customer begins to open up about their issue, you’ll need to acknowledge that there is a problem. This is where you may be tempted to jump in and say that you’ll make it right. While that is certainly the goal, you don’t want your acknowledgment to come off as a promise. Your customer may be upset, and they may be looking for someone to blame. Instead of promising to make things better, you should acknowledge that the situation is not ideal. This will show your customer that you understand their frustration, and it may help diffuse some of that anger.
Don’t take everything personally
A customer who is upset with your business may not fully understand the reason they are experiencing a problem. This can cause them to take things personally. They may feel like you, as an owner, don’t care about their issue or the orders you’ve received. In reality, that may not be the case. As an entrepreneur, you may have a small team that is simply overwhelmed with the current workload. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about your customers. It also doesn’t mean that you need to address the issue in the moment. Regardless of how a customer is feeling, it can be easy to take those feelings personally. You don’t want to let your own emotions get the best of you and cause you to lose sight of the business at hand.
Establish a path to resolution
Now that you’ve acknowledged the problem and your customer has vented their frustrations, it’s time to get down to business. You’ll want to establish a path to resolution with your customer. This starts with a simple question: “What do you need from me?” You are the one in the driver’s seat at this point, and your customer is the one needing something from you. So, you’ll want to ask them what they need to feel satisfied once again with your business. Once you have a path to resolution established, it’s time to stick to that path. You need to commit to making the situation right and finishing what you’ve started.
Remember that as the owner of a business you have the power to make things right for your customers. But you also have the power to defend yourself when the situation calls for it. When your customer is requesting more than your company can provide, you’ll want to remain firm. For example, if a customer is demanding a full refund for a product that has already been delivered and has encountered no damage or defect, you’ll want to remain firm. Your product has already been delivered, and a full refund isn’t an option. You may also encounter customers who are simply trying to take advantage of you. These people are hoping to get something out of your business that they don’t deserve. If you feel that a customer is out of line, remain firm.
Conflict can arise in any business, and it can be difficult to know how to handle it. While it’s important to be respectful and empathetic towards your customers, it’s also important not to let them walk all over you. The key to resolving a conflict with a customer is communication. You need to listen to your customer, acknowledge the problem, and then work towards a solution with the end goal of making them happy again.