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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I market financial automobile contracts between used car dealerships and several finance companies. Business has been good and I can't complain about the income. By nature, my customers (dealership personnel) are very pushy about having their customer loan applications approved and when they are not, they will hound you for days. I am finding that my temper with these dealers (my customers) sometimes gets to the breaking point.

I am looking for some wisdom to help me cope with them.

Thanks

Answer from our Guest Expert Donna Hall of The Right Answer, Customer Service Consultants

Finding it hard to keep your cool, eh? Well, that's a hard thing to do, even for the best of us. So, don't beat yourself up too much! Maybe we can whip up some advice and tips here to put a smile back on your face.

As a person with more than 20 years of customer service experience, I've seen a lion's share of hard-to-handle customers....and I've often felt angry with their persistence, attitude, and choice of words. But, to be a true service pro, rule number one is to stay calm...no matter what!

It Takes Two to Tango -- So Don't Tango

Even if the other person is raving and irritating, customer concerns are much more manageable when you keep a cool and level head. Don't do the angry dance too! You'll just end up saying something you'll regret. Remember, these customers are your bread and butter and we all know the saying, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you!"

But seriously, when you feel that you're getting to the breaking point, count to ten and take a deep breath. Let some oxygen get to your brain and reduce your heart rate by breathing in and out slowly and evenly. (You can do this while the other person is talking nonstop or ranting. They won't know a thing!)

Act Like a Friend Would

Think about the customer as a friend with a problem and try to solve it for them in an even, concerned voice. Address their questions directly with honesty and patience. Try to empathize too. This will throw them off a little, expecting you to defend yourself or actions. But use your judgment. Most unhappy customers need someone to listen, to problem solve, to talk to. And you're it. You can calm them down with this ploy and then find some even ground for some productive dialogue.

Be Prepared with Some Good Responses

For those customers who you know are a bit impatient, try to have some prepared responses -- lines to soothe them when they call you making unrealistic demands on you and/or your time. It is possible to get these anxious individuals on your side. Most people realize when they are being a bit rambunctious, let them air their frustrations, and then come in to smooth those ruffled feathers.

Get the Picture

Do you have any children or grandchildren or a dear loved one whose photos grace your work desk? Sometimes, when I'm feeling like losing my temper or getting exasperated with a customer, I'll look at a photo of my twin sons, and I'm softer, gentler. Is there a picture of a favorite place? Surround yourself with photos of people and places you love. Look at them to regain composure and calm. There's always a "bigger picture" to any debate, problem, or bad attitude.

Words to Live By

Likewise, what about inspirational verses, poems, or quotes? Have some of them pasted on or around your desk to remind you of the finer aspects to life, love, and work. Maybe these will help you keep your cool when the heat gets turned up.

The bottomline is to remain professional at all times.

You'll get more bees with honey and you'll feel less stress at the end of the day. As an added bonus, customers will be singing your praises and admiring how effective you are when under pressure.

Good luck! And Stay Cool!

Donna Hall

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