When we're in a shop, we expect great customer service. When we're working in a shop, we know we're expected to give great customer service. The question is, how do you give great customer service when your customer will do everything in their power to rattle you? 

It's always a relief to have a customer who is friendly no matter what issues arise, but some customers will refuse to be satisfied, and everything will be your fault. But we mustn't buckle under the stress, and here are my 5 tips for dealing with tricky customers:

Greet them with a smile

Even if you're feeling tired or fed up, put on a smile and pretend otherwise. It only takes a moment, and then you can help them with whatever they need. A smile ensures a positive start, and they can't complain that you look unenthusiastic about your job!

Listen closely and speak confidently

When I first started working in customer service, it occurred to me that it's very much like acting. There are certain things you have to say, and you are forced to be someone you're not. I'm not confident in any way, but with customers I have no choice. So even though it might be out of character, try and put on a confident performance, and don't forget your lines!

Don't rise to their rudeness

Not everyone is nice. If your customer has a problem and are being rude towards you, do your best to keep calm and deal with the issue as efficiently as possible, whilst remaining reasonable and polite towards them. Don't be rude back, however much you want to. Don't be afraid to ask someone else to help you. If you need assistance, then get it, and reassure your customer that you're doing everything you can. 

Accept challenges willingly

Each customer is unique. Some may have similar issues/enquiries, but as people they will be different. Some will be understanding, whereas others might be angry or annoyed. Embrace the challenge, and keep your mind and attention focused on them. People like to feel that they are receiving one-on-one service, so give it to them. While you're with customers, the outside world doesn't matter, and they do, so see your job as a challenge that you accept, because nine times out of ten, you will complete it!

Speak with your personality

At the end of the way, we're all human beings. I try to speak to my customers with my own personality, even when there might be a difficult situation. Most people will understand when an issue isn't your fault, and as long as you can fix the problem, feel free to speak to them as yourself rather than as a customer service robot. 

I work in a clothes shop, and a customer wanted to buy a skirt, but then at last minute we realised she was about to purchase a 'skort' (a mix between a skirt and a pair of shorts), my instant reaction was to say: "I didn't even know skorts existed!" and the customer agreed with me and laughed. I like to think this was me showing my personality, and appearing completely at ease with the customer. Usually, you'll be able to tell who will see these kind of comments as a positive thing, and you'll automatically feel more comfortable speaking with them on this level. So if you have a nice customer, just be yourself. If you have a rude customer, be yourself, but be as professional as you can be and follow the previous tips!

Extra tips

  • If you know their name, address them personally. Let's say you're serving Mrs Jane Smith, when you're talking to her, drop in a 'Mrs Smith' at least once, or when they are leaving. This will (hopefully) make them feel like your number one priority, and that you are an attentive and observant assistant!
  • If there's a frequent problem, remember how you dealt with it last time. Or, if one of your colleagues is dealing with a situation that you haven't, pay attention so you know for future reference how to sort out that particular issue. 
  • Keep a pen and paper close by at all times. I always have a reporters notebook in my left pocket, and a pen in my right pocket. In shops, pens redistribute themselves and go missing all the time, but if you have one on you, then that's one less worry. Plus, if you need to take customer details or write down anything from a phone call, having a little notepad to hand will ensure that you're not frantically trying to search for any scrap of paper when you should be listening to your customer. 

Keep smiling, and good luck out there!

 

Published by Jade Moore