Conflict is often the direct result of a difference of opinion. It is likely to occur with unhappy customers, or when dealing with a lack of communication, rapid change, unusual processes or different expectations.
However, conflict management is essential to any organization. A recent study by 2020 showed that one in two customers said they switched to a competitor because of a bad experience. And 4 out of 5 customers, after the second bad interaction. Customers want the best results at the lowest price.
On the other hand, the company must assume its commercial strategy. Therefore, during their relationship, customers and companies will necessarily face disagreements. Because it is not possible to get around all the points of disagreement, here are 6 techniques to resolve conflicts with your customers.
Upstream, use training to prevent and manage conflicts
Managing customer dissatisfaction is not easy. It is a skill to develop that is far from being innate. It requires a good dose of self-control, business strategy, psychology and diplomacy to master this soft skill. It is a good idea to ensure that the customer relations team is made up of people who have undergone training in this area and who can deal with a dissatisfied customer. Particularly effective seminars and courses exist that specialize in managing customer conflict.
It is necessary to learn beforehand how to apprehend conflict situations, to adopt the appropriate discourse and posture. Training your staff to manage customer complaints and adopting a customer satisfaction policy will help create a climate that is conducive to exchanges and rapid conflict resolution.
Use appropriate body and verbal language
It is estimated that only 7% of the message is conveyed through words. 38% is conveyed through vocal elements and 55% is conveyed through non-verbal cues such as posture and facial expressions. Therefore, the way you stand, your facial expressions and the tone you use give your interlocutor a lot of information. They can guess the approach to conflict resolution.
Positive body language, which shows openness, will lead the other person to mirror your posture and position. Generally, crossing your arms is not recommended as it tends to express aggression. On the other hand, sitting close to the other person is a sign of a willingness to communicate and collaborate.
In terms of verbal language, avoid using certain words that can be belligerent. To avoid creating an anxiety-provoking situation or putting clients on the defensive, avoid using certain expressions such as “but” during a disagreement. It is desirable not to show opposition to the customer’s position, but rather to show that you understand and are on their side rather than against them. You may want to formulate your sentences with the client’s needs in mind and what you will do to resolve the situation. Framing your sentences correctly makes the customer aware of the difficulty the company is facing and the decision they need to make. This may lead them to consider your company’s point of view in conversations, even if it does not immediately resolve the conflict.
Adopt active listening
Listening to the customer to identify the reasons for their dissatisfaction and their expectations is the first thing to do. You will have to listen to him genuinely, without trying to argue or worse, to cut him off. They will see that you care and will be more open to compromise. If you are dealing with a customer who is verbally expressing dissatisfaction, do not interrupt. You can simply nod from time to time to show your understanding and refocus the discussion on the problem if necessary. Active listening involves rephrasing the customer’s concerns to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the problem. This will allow you to provide effective and appropriate solutions while showing the customer that you care about their situation.
Step back, stay calm and calm your interlocutor
Regardless of the aggressive tone used by the customer, the first reflex is to distance yourself from the tone and above all not to respond in the same tone. Instead, you must play the appeasement card so that the customer feels listened to and taken into consideration. Thus, even in front of an angry or even aggressive customer, you must have excellent self-control and remain calm, courteous and polite. This will avoid unnecessary and unproductive escalation. You must make your interlocutor understand that you are there to help him solve his problem. Give them the opportunity to speak and invite them to calmly express their concern so that it can be addressed.
Empathize and think solution
You have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes in order to resolve a conflict. This means understanding their dissatisfaction and disappointment by seeing the situation from their point of view. You can reassure the customer and propose solutions that will be beneficial to all parties.
If the resolution of the problem is going to take a long time, or is more complicated than expected, contact the client. Inform them succinctly of the status of the situation and the difficulties you are encountering. This will help them understand that you have not forgotten them and that you are working on their problem.
Find a solution to the problem
The conflict will only be truly resolved when a solution has been found to satisfy everyone. This may involve, for example, offering the dissatisfied customer a service or product that meets their expectations. Avoid making promises that you cannot keep. Misunderstandings on both sides must also be avoided. To do this, take care to validate the proposed solution with the customer before any implementation.