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Tips for Resolving Customer Conflicts Quickly and Amicably

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

When you're running a business and dealing with the expectations of many different kinds of customers, you're almost sure to run into some form of conflict at one time or another. Maybe a customer didn't get what they ordered on time. Perhaps they were dissatisfied with the level of customer service that they received. The reasons vary as much as their faces do.

However, with conflict comes the need for conflict resolution. When a company knows how to resolve matters in a quick, courteous and thorough way, it not only makes the dissatisfied customer happy, but it also turns them into a potential return customer as well.

So, what are some tips for resolving customer conflicts in a fast and amicable way? Here are five great one:

Listen. When a customer is not satisfied, it only makes matters worse when you don't listen to their complaint. If it takes them 30 seconds or a few minutes, be kind enough to allow them to express their concerns. Not only does it help to calm them down, but it also helps you to find the best solution possible based on the information that they are giving you.

Try not to take it (too) personally. One of the biggest mistakes that a person makes while dealing with a customer's discontentment is that they take it way too personally. Even when the customer is fuming, you have to remember to not mistake a professional conversation for a personal relationship. The key is to keep your eye on the prize and that is coming up with a solution to the problem as quickly as you possibly can. If you start debating with the customer, you are going to find yourself getting further away from your goal.

Acknowledge their feelings. Anytime we're not pleased with something and we share it with someone else, we tend to feel a lot better once our feelings are actually acknowledged. So, make sure to do this for your customer. You can do this by saying something like, "I'm really sorry that happened" and then following it up with, "What can we do to make this a more pleasant experience for you?" You may not be able to meet all of their "demands", but nine times out of 10, the customer will appreciate you even making the effort to try.

Provide more than one solution. Once you've narrowed down what the issue is, being that the customer is already not the most pleased or trusting, it's a good idea to have a couple of "optional solutions" for them to choose from. It's basically like providing them with an alternative dispute resolution. So, for instance, if they ordered something that didn't arrive until two days later than they expected, maybe give them a choice of a refund on shipping or free shipping with their next order. That way, they will feel like they played a role in fixing the matter.

Follow up. Unfortunately, there are a lot of businesses that don't do this, but it would be great if they did. Even after you work something out with the customer, follow up with a phone call or email (or both) to see if they are pleased with the resolve and if there is anything else that you can do. It's a very courteous customer service move. So much so that it will probably cause you to stand out as you transition from being the business with "the poor customer service issue" to "the company with great customer service skills".

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