So, here’s a sad truth: your customers don’t care.
They don’t care about your personal life, your individual challenges, and when another customer has been rude to you.
Your customers have the same shit in their lives, and hey, they could be going through far worse.
Cast your mind back to a time where someone was rude to you during a service interaction. How did that feel to you? How did you explain their behaviour?
It sucks, doesn’t it? No one likes it when people don’t treat them with the dignity and respect they think they deserve.
You need to make sure you are not letting your own emotions impact on your customers’ experiences.
That’s the aim here. How do you get there? Here’s some steps that I’ve found useful.
1. If you feel like a customer is being rude to you, take a few minutes before replying. Then, start reading back through the full conversation again, and try and get a better feeling for the customer. One great idea (which I stole from a colleague – thanks Katie!) is to look them up on their company website or LinkedIn. Find a photo of the person you’re emailing, and remember: they are human.
2. If that’s not enough, then pass the conversation to someone else. They won’t have the emotional link to the conversation, and will be able to engage better. This doesn’t have to be an “escalation”; ask a peer to take your place.
3. Before a call with a customer, take some time to take a few deep breaths, ground yourself, and consider your current mood. What do you feel that might impact on how you’re going to work with this customer? What can you do now to reduce the impact of this on your customer?
4. When things get tough and you feel like you’re going to start snapping and being impatient, take a break. There’s always time to step away and do a short meditation. I’m a big fan of Headspace’s SOS meditations for a brief break. You’ll be able to avoid letting your life have a negative impact on your customers.
5. Finally, if you continue to experience challenges with working with one specific customer, talk to your manager or team lead. Passing off to a new primary contact can be a great approach, and can reset the relationship. This allows the new contact to start afresh, and to set their own boundaries.
So, there you go. Remember, this is not about restricting how you can feel. The aim isn’t to prevent you from having powerful and human interactions with customers. The goal here is to make sure that you are having consistent, positive and productive interactions.