Managing Challenging Customers To Avoid Discrimination Litigation

You have trained your employees. You monitor and mentor them. Their customer service skills are pretty darn good. However, one angry customer can bring chaos to your peaceful workplace.

When we consider discrimination or harassment litigation potential, we often think of litigation between employees and employers. However, discrimination or harassment litigation between customers and employers is another risk to consider. Managers must help set a tone to keep customer complaints from spinning out of control.

Of course, every workplace and situation is different, but in general, what are some effective approaches to difficult customer issues that fall in your lap and could lead to a bigger risk?

  • Check in on the client with a personal handwritten note or in person. Find out if your solution is still working for the client. A little extra attention can go a long way to preserving the business relationship.
  • Venting is important. Thank the client for the opportunity to be of service, and then just let the client vent, especially if you observe anger or disappointment.
  • Listen to the venting. Don't interrupt. Make sure there are no digital device interruptions. Make eye contact. When the client stops, repeat back to the client (not like a parrot, but rather paraphrase) what you heard the complaint is all about. Ask the client if there is anything else.
  • Get clear on the complaint. Ask the client about anything he or she said that was unclear to you. Remember, you are still gathering information, not refuting anything said. At this point, the facts are whatever the client believes they are.
  • You know what the problem is now, so it is time to fix it. Let the client know what your plan is. Be sure to surprise the client by not only solving the problem, but throwing in something extra to exceed expectations.
  • Thank your employees for following their training and referring the difficult matter to you. Document all of your efforts.

By:  Leslie Zieren via The McCalmon Group, Inc.