Dealing with the Customer from Hell

Although surrounded by 15 million books here at the British Library, and unlike WoodsieGirl, I don’t get nearly as much time to read as I would like.

However, in the last few weeks I have managed to get through several, thanks to my epically slow train journey, and my speed reading training from Alex Garcez the The Speed Reading Coach.

As part of my aim to constantly strive for better customer service within the Business & IP Centre, I bought a copy of Dealing with the Customer from Hell – A Survival Guide, by Shaun Belding.

It is a great book because he recognises that in most cases customers from hell did not start the day in that mode (or mood), but circumstances have lead to the behaviour we are seeing as service providers. He reminds us that we have all probably been, or come close to acting as customers from hell, when things have gone particularly badly for us. Once we start to see them in that light we can begin to move towards resolving their problem.

Shaun also points out that we are not taught at school, or in most workplaces, to cope with bad behaviour. So when we are confronted with it, we go into shock and react, rather than calmly respond appropriately and with humour.

We also can be badly emotionally scarred (and scared) by these experiences, which can negatively influence our behaviour in future customer interactions.

One of the most important messages, is that you can’t win against customers from hell, but in most cases you can win with them, and so resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

Shaun introduces the LESTER acronym for the six steps to take to resolve customer problems:

  • Listening to your customer
  • Echoing the issue
  • Sympathizing with your customer’s emotional state
  • Thanking your customer for his or her input
  • Evaluating your options
  • Responding with a win-win solution.


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