Dealing With Difficult Conversations

I’ve just had an awful experience with my former broadband provider. It was so messy we have parted company. 6 weeks without broadband in a new home isn’t fun! It could have been very different if the representatives I spoke to had followed a few rules like this:

  1. Step into the customer’s reality. Their world, try to imagine what they are experiencing. What are they feeling? What impact is the problem having on them directly and others? This is the most important part of a challenging conversation.
  2. Acknowledge the problem clearly, this allows them to start to believe you might understand.
  3. Give appropriate behaviour throughout, make sure your body language and tone is sincere. If the other person is stressed use a calm tone.
  4. Dig deep, get curious, challenge yourself to find out more about the situation
  5. Don’t prescribe a solution too soon, check if there is still more to find out and the customer will feel like you are recognising they are an individual and not just applying a one size fits all type fix.
  6. Listen! One of my clients has a beautiful phrase for this: “apply generous listening”
  7. Keep the customer involved during the process, give updates when you promise to. Call and give an update even if you have nothing further to update at the time. “I’m calling to let you know we are still working on a solution…” far more reassuring than no response and definitely better than waiting to take the heat when the frustrated customer calls back out of justified impatience.
  8. Set expectations realistically remember you are balancing what is right for the customer and the business you are representing.

It would be good to know your thoughts and suggestions and which of the above is helpful.

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