Many customers have been conditioned to be skeptical of what businesses tell them. They assume the worst and enter the customer/provider relationship expecting to be disappointed. In this article, family-owned private oil and gas company Ferrari Energy explains why companies should train their staff to disarm combative customers.
If you're like most people, you dread the day you have to shop for a new car. Car salespeople are notorious for being crafty, a little slippery, and, for some, downright dishonest. A blanket perception like that will not fit all, or even most, professional car salespeople, but the automobile industry has earned that reputation for a reason.
Another common pain point is signing up for an online subscription. Most consumers understand that it will be much easier to sign up than it will be to cancel a subscription online. It can sometimes seem impossible to stop subscription services from dipping into your credit card each month. They require cancellations to be done by telephone but then don't answer their phone.
These everyday experiences have conditioned customers to expect to be abused by companies they do business with. We all need cars, and we want to read the news online and stream entertainment, so customers grit their teeth and get ready to do battle before they've even given your company a chance. It's not your fault, but your challenge is to prove their preconceptions wrong.
To meet the challenge of disarming combative customers, you need highly trained customer-facing staff. Anyone who will regularly contact your most valuable asset, your customers, should be given customer service training. It's great that your staff understand your products or services and how you do business, but it's more important that they know how to disarm angry customers.
Your investment in quality customer service training will pay for itself over and over. When you successfully break down a customer's initial distrust and prove by your actions that they can trust you to keep their best interest top of mind, you have gained a loyal customer. They will still be suspicious of companies generally, but once you cross the threshold of becoming trusted, that skepticism now works in your favor. They are not likely to look for a new provider without good reason.
Customer service staff not explicitly trained to understand that customers are conditioned to be combative can often find themselves in heated, unproductive, and even aggressive interactions with angry customers.
We've all had the experience of spending way too long on hold before being connected to a customer service agent. When this happens, we are angry and ready to express our frustration even before the agent comes on the line. Train your staff to expect this reaction and quickly apologize for any inconvenience and express genuine empathy for what the customer is feeling.
It is also crucial to help customer service staff understand that their attempts to satisfy a combative customer will not always be successful. Some people are determined to protect themselves from what they perceive to be potential abuse from companies, and no amount of empathy will dissuade them from their aggressive defense.
Through training, your staff will learn not to take a customer's combative posture personally, do their best to make the customer happy, and perform their job professionally regardless of the outcome.
Many companies can cite examples of adversarial customer relationships that, handled correctly, turned into long-term profitable, loyal customers. Invest in excellent customer service training to help your business earn loyal customers and retain quality customer service agents.