Two tough customers…Gripes, Failings and…

Two tough customers…One easy solution

When it comes to the difficult types that we deal with, old Gruff Gus and his cousin Smart Sam are the pits. The good news is that if you’re willing to eat a bit of humble pie, both these ornery characters are capable of being “handled”. Best of all, the approach is similar.

In the case of Gus, he wants to be in charge. And if you “tell” him anything, he’ll respond negatively. But if he’s asked for his opinion, chances are he’ll be more than happy to take charge. In his case, start with a question (and not a statement) that begins with something along the lines of, “In your opinion”. Do that and you’ll likely find a lot more success than attempting to convince him with a statement. Let him do the convincing!

With smart Sam, the approach is similar, but with one distinction. He wants you to know just how smart he is. So, appeal to his vanity. If he’s a restaurant operator and you’re hoping to gain his ware washing business, ask him what he thinks of canisters versus liquids, or high temp machines compared to low temps. He’ll likely take the stage and let you know exactly what, (in his superior knowledge), is best. Then you simply follow that lead!

In both cases, the trick is to do some old Sun-Tzu stuff and use his strength to overcome and win the day with your “weaker” force!

Next up: Timid Tim and Careful Cathy

Gripes, failings and…Keeping us whole

When that good customer complains it doesn’t automatically mean that we need to lie down and ask them to have their way with us. Alternatively, it sure doesn’t mean that we put up our dukes and fight to defend our position with absolutely no give! Nope, it just means that we have a relationship that needs some repair work.

But how to do that with the fewest ruffled feathers and with the preservation of as much of our hide, money (and feelings) as possible is the question.

It begins with the realization that you will have to meet somewhere in the middle and that regardless of how innocent you are, there’s little chance that you’ll come away whole if you take the position that the customer is simply mistaken. Think of complaints being a lot like a sales objection. As you know from experience in that case, step one is to acknowledge the legitimacy of that concern and then move to explaining the benefit that offset it.

In the case of a service complaint phase one is pretty much the same. First acknowledge the legitimacy of their belief. Then the objection approach gets modified.

If it seems appropriate, one way to do that is to ask what they’d like you to do. If that yields a viable proposition, take it. If not, you’re now in a negotiation that’ll end in a compromise that might just leave you both reasonably satisfied!