It happens to all of us: A parent or student makes a complaint. You can’t just ignore it... By doing that, you send the message that you don’t want to fix the problem. When a customer (or potential customer) is dead set on arguing with you, you can defuse the situation in four easy steps:
- Thank the person for their comments – even if those comments were shouted at you. Remember: The attack is not personal, so don’t treat it that way. Keep your cool, even when being berated.
- Start your half of the conversation with this phrase: “Let me see if I understand you completely.” then restate the person’s argument – slowly.
This does two things:
- It gives the person a chance to calm down; and
- It shows that you are truly listening, and taking their concerns seriously.
- Find at least one thing in the argument that you can agree with.
Even if you think the argument as a whole is nonsense, pick out one major point you can agree with. Build your rebuttal on that point. For instance: “Well, Mr. Fryman, I can certainly see your point about your gear coming in late. I will make sure that doesn’t happen again. Now, about your other concerns…” By conceding a point or two right away, you show that you are not defensive about the situation – and that you really want to solve the problem, not blame or make excuses.
- Solve the problem to the best of your ability.
Remember: When customers pick a fight, what they’re really saying is, “I have a problem.” Solve that problem. By doing so, you turn a negative around, and actually gain points.
Smart business people don’t mind when customers complain. They see it as their chance to shine – to win the customer’s loyalty.