As the IT sales space has grown more competitive and the number of major differences between providers and product offerings has dwindled, customer service has emerged as one of the key factors in buyers’ decision-making processes.
Today, the software–as–a–service trend has heightened the focus on customer–oriented business practices even more. Generally speaking, most IT firms are now much savvier about the issue of customer satisfaction than they were even a decade ago.
Still, despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions, it is inevitable that even the most customer-focused reseller will occasionally encounter the type of buyer that makes "customer satisfaction" nearly impossible to achieve.
What should you do when you run across an impossible–to–please client? Use these tips to help make the best of a tough situation.
Listen more than you talk. Often, when a customer is upset, what they want more than anything is to be heard and to have their struggles and concerns validated. Rather than rebutting or challenging every statement that your irate client makes, try to offer up a sympathetic ear.
Figure out what they really want–and deliver. A particular problem with the service or product might be the surface–level manifestation of a more profound concern. Listen carefully to figure out what that larger problem might be–and then try to offer a solution that addresses both their immediate complaint and the deeper issue.
Express empathy, kindness, and patience. Nothing helps to disarm and defuse a hard–to–please customer than a consistently kind and generous response style. On the other hand, the situation is more likely to escalate out of control if your approach to customer service is brusque and disinterested.
Go above and beyond the call of duty. Some clients are always going to be harder to please than others. By identifying these customer satisfaction holdouts early on and then "flooding the zone" with thoughtful gestures, personal service, and particularly responsive assistance, you’ll be more likely to satisfy even the most persnickety of buyers.
Try not to take it personally. Remember, even the most irate clients aren’t really made at you personally. Even if they express their dissatisfaction in insults or other overly personal terms, they’re not really mad at you. When you’re dealing with difficult clients, it’s vital to adopt and maintain a professional, objective, friendly–but–attached attitude.
What’s your best tip for dealing with difficult clients? Give us your input in the comments.