Customers are the reason we have jobs. We know that. We love that. However, anyone who has worked with customers for more than about 15 minutes knows that there are moments when you wish it was acceptable to act like Hulk Hogan at the office. A powerful leg drop or a nice flying elbow off the end of your desk sometimes seems like the only resolution for a disgruntled customer. But before you let Hulkamania run wild at your office, try these conflict resolution techniques.
1. Listen first, talk second – Take time to determine if there is actually a problem or the customer is just venting
2. Explore options together – Instead of Me vs. You, partner with your customer and take an Us vs. The Problem approach
3. It’s not ALL about you – Chances are, it’s not about YOU at all. Avoid becoming defensive and focus on the problem
4. Conflicts fester when ignored – It may be too late with this customer but it’s not too late for the next one. Take a few moments to be proactive and reach out to a customer to avoid a future conflict
5. Above all, conflicts are opportunities – If you are able to resolve the problem and maintain your professionalism it builds trust
6. Keep people and problems separate – Despite your best efforts, if the customer continues to be a drain on your business, consider firing them. Raise the rates or increase your timeline until they are “forced” to move on and become someone else’s problem
As Hulk Hogan would say, “Whatcha Gonna Do” when conflict happens to you?