Might your need to be better at customer liaison be met by this London based management training course called Skills with People?
Yes if you agree with any of the following
- It's my job to handle customers when things go wrong, and sometimes it's difficult because they can be very emotional.
- I'm uncomfortable when they get emotional.
- I try to calm them down, but sometimes my effect seems to be to wind them up. I don't undertand how this happens.
- I feel out of my depth handling emotion.
Video - An introduction to our customer liaison skills course (3 minutes)
What you'll take away from this customer liaison skills training course
- You'll have a high-powered set of customer liaison skills, a very successful way of handling complaints when the customer gets emotional. You'll be much more confident you can handle them well when things go wrong.
- Customers, like everyone else, are easy to handle when things go well, but not so easy when things go wrong. But it's when things go wrong that you have a great opportunity to make the customer experience a positive one. So it needn't be a disaster - potentially it's very good for business if you handle it with skill.
How the skills you'll practise on this course will make you more successful at customer liaison
Here are some guidelines for handling customer complaints or dealing with difficult customers
To follow these guidelines you need to use the two crucial skills you'll develop on this course, empathy and assertiveness. We'll give you sufficient practice and coaching for you to develop the confidence you can use this approach when dealing with a customer:-
- First, calm the customer down by listening with empathy and allowing him to let off steam.
- Then, be assertive in stating firmly and clearly:-
- How you feel about it (e.g., you regret it has happened, you’re keen to do something about it).
- What you are going to do about it (e.g., ask him for more facts, go and talk to X, ring him back within Y amount of time).
- Then do what you’ve said you'll do.
- Finally check that the customer is fully satisfied.
Below is an example of two conversations with a customer. The first is without the two crucial customer liaison skills. The second shows how the conversation goes when you use the skills.
It's usually very disturbing to a customer when something goes wrong, or seems to go wrong, with a product or service he depends on. Behind many complaints or calls for technical support there are strong feelings – anxiety, frustration, anger, disappointment, panic. And until the customer has expressed his feelings and let off steam it's very hard for him to calm down and think rationally. Customer liaison people, just because they're so eager to get stuck in and fix the problem, often make two mistakes:-
- They expect the customer to engage in a rational conversation before letting off steam.
- They take it for granted that he knows they intend to stay with him, get to the bottom of his problem and help him resolve it. Of course that's their intention, but in his highly charged emotional state he probably doesn’t assume it.
Both these mistakes are illustrated in the example below. Nicola is the customer liaison person:-
Here's the conversation WITHOUT the two skills
NICOLA: Customer support. How can I help?
CUSTOMER: It’s your ***** software. It keeps letting me down. I can’t rely on it.
NICOLA: What exactly is the problem?
CUSTOMER: How do I know what the ***** problem is? I shouldn’t have wasted my money on it. It’s useless! What am I supposed to do now?
NICOLA: Please calm down and tell me exactly what the difficulty is.
CUSTOMER: Don’t tell me to calm down! This is a crisis! My business depends on it – worst luck!
NICOLA: But if you don’t tell me what’s going wrong how can I help?
CUSTOMER: You don’t seem to realise how serious this is! If you call this ‘customer support’ you must be joking!
NICOLA: I’m not going to take any more insults. Do you want me to help or don’t you?
CUSTOMER: How can I trust you to help me if you don’t realise how serious this is? (He may not actually say this, but it probably is how he is feeling.)
There's obviously a serious misunderstanding here. The customer urgently needs help, and Nicola is eager to give it. The reason why they totally fail to connect is that Nicola is not using emotional intelligence. She’s not talking about either her own or the customer’s feelings.
Here's the same conversation WITH the two skills
This time Nicola is much more communicative, and uses the two skills at the heart of emotional intelligence, empathy and assertiveness. These are the two main skills taught on the Skills with People course - and they're both crucial customer liaison skills:-
NICOLA: Hi. It’s Nicola here. I’m on the customer support team. How can I help?
CUSTOMER: Hi. It’s your ***** software. It keeps letting me down. I can’t rely on it.
NICOLA (using empathy): From your tone of voice this sounds like a crisis.
CUSTOMER (lets off steam): Too damned right! My business depends on it. It’s costing me time and money.
NICOLA (more empathy, plus clear reassurance): I can hear it’s urgent. My job now is to identify and fix the problem to your satisfaction.
CUSTOMER (because he's been allowed to let off steam he rapidly calms down): That’s a relief.
NICOLA (takes charge, but with empathy): First I'm going to have to ask you some detailed questions to identify precisely what the problem is. Are you ready for us to do that?
CUSTOMER (now feels sufficiently safe and calm to take part in a rational conversation): Please go ahead. (His blood pressure is now returning to normal.)
This time nothing is taken for granted. Everything is communicated. The customer rapidly calms down and is able to take part in a rational conversation. He feels understood and reassured – and this doesn't take long. Because of how the problem is handled his confidence in the supplier is restored.
The two skills make all the difference. One is Nicola’s quick empathy. The other is the assertive reassurance she gives him that she intends to stay with him until the problem is fixed.
So don’t argue. Don’t ride roughshod over people’s feelings. Don’t rush them. Don’t expect them to be reasonable before they’ve had a chance to let off steam. Don’t assume they know your whole purpose and intention is to give them the support they urgently need – spell it out.
More reasons why you might benefit from this customer liaison skills training
- One of the hardest parts of your job is handling customers' complaints, and you need to be able to do it well.
- As someone who has to handle customers' complaints you have a key part to play in creating the kind of customer experience that will make your company successful.
- When dealing with customers you just do your best to be helpful, but you've never considered before that there might be a particular set of skills that could make all the difference to your success.
- The most difficult part of handling customers is getting them to calm down when something goes wrong.
- You'd like to know how to improve the customer experience.
Audio Clip - Listen to our conversation about dealing with angry or complaining customers (23 minutes)
Interested? Arrange a FREE exploratory coaching session
If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.
How to accept this offer
Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session.
What this session will do for you
In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.
You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).
Price, dates and location of our upcoming public courses
For details of our upcoming public courses see course dates.