The customer is always right. Right? That statement has always bothered me because half the time the customer is wrong. However—and this is a big however—we have to let them believe they are right, even when they are way wrong.
This article is about three ways to deal with difficult customers—before they become difficult. All of these ideas are based on one undeniable truth, we can’t change people (or mind control them—someday there will be an app for that).
If we can’t change others behavior, then what can we do? Try these ideas on for size to see if we can’t control their minds at least a little bit.
What we put out, we get back.
We set the tone with customers. Sure, some people are just grumpy or have “issues” that have nothing to do with us and are insurmountable. That said, the bulk of our customers come to us in a fairly good mood and are excited to be doing business with us. So what makes them turn on us? More importantly, how do we prevent it?
I know this will sound hokey, but when we smile, the world indeed smiles back at us. I’m serious, how we greet people (with a smile, using their name when we can, and a quick compliment about something they are wearing) gets us off on the right foot. It’s a personal touch which takes time, but in the end saves time when that’s one less person we have to deal with later because we’ve already won them over. Taking the time to smile, learn their name, and compliment them shows respect. That’s (almost) all people want, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect for their business, their time, and their status (whatever that may be).
Give them a reputation to live up to.
Let’s try an experiment. I want you to try to not picture a big white Polar Bear. Ha, you can’t not, not picture a Polar Bear, right? (A few of you may have been able to steel off your mind, but the rest of us see a bear when asked not to.) The flip side of this is when we tell people they are understanding, cooperative, fun, easy going, and a joy to be around, they can’t help themselves from going there. They become the person we labeled them to be. In other words, they live up to our expectations.
I know what you’re thinking, when things go wrong, they’ll just revert to their old selves again. Not always. Isn’t it silly when we attend a concert and the rock star acknowledges our hometown and we all cheer. “Hellooooo Detroit.” That’s a set up, but it works every time. Let’s plant the seed (early) with our customers that they are the kind of people who are spontaneous (they are flexible enough to go with the flow when plans change), resourceful (they’re willing to make things work even when they’re not), and team players (we’re all in this together, so let’s stick together no matter what).