How to handle challenging customer service questions

Customer service is the best way to help your company stand out in today’s competitive environment.  But, it isn’t always easy.  There will be times when your public facing employees will have to deal with customers who are angry or impatient, make inordinate demands, or who are otherwise difficult.  However, while such customers may be a challenge they are also an opportunity to establish a reputation for excellent customer service. Which is why we have a few tips on how to handle challenging customer service questions.

How to handle challenging customer service questions

Handling challenging customer service questions

Establish and maintain professionalism

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about online chats, email, face to face discussions or any other form of communication with customers, the very first step in handling customer service questions is to establish and maintain a professional demeanor.  Professionalism begins by realising that you can only control one side of the conversation.  Most of the breakdown in dealing with challenging customer service questions happens when employees attempt to steer the customer’s side of the conversation rather than handling the customers questions.  The point is not to argue with the customer or even try to educate the customer, instead deal with the customer’s questions or complaints in a calm and even manner that is neither condescending nor provoking.

Simply listening is usually the best first step.  If the customer is charged up emotionally about a particular issue it’s generally better to simply allow the customer to vent until he or she has calmed down.  Calmly listening is the best way for an employee to show concern for the customer’s needs.

Ensure employees are trained well

While employees should be well briefed on the products and services offered, there always comes a point when the customer has a question that the employee does not know the answer to.  While, “I don’t know” is a perfectly legitimate response in most situations, it should be avoided when dealing with customers.  When confronted with an unknown, the employee should simply acknowledge the customer’s question and find the answer as quickly as possible.  Simply say, ” I’ll find an answer for you,” and then proceed to get that answer as quickly as possible.

Fix the problem rather than fix the blame

Customer facing employees have to deal with a variety of different people and there are rare occasions when they must deal with someone looking to affix blame rather than solve the problem.  In such a case it’s a good idea to never engage in natter and to avoid negative statements such as, ” I can’t” or ” I won’t.” Always work to fix the problem rather than fix the blame.  For one thing, blaming is a negative action that really doesn’t address the problem, and acknowledging blame may not be justified and could lead to lawsuits.

How to handle challenging customer service questions

Handling challenging customer questions is more than just the responsibility of the employee who is dealing directly with the customer.  Management must support the employee’s decisions and give the employee sufficient latitude to deal with the problem.  Also, it is management’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is sufficiently trained to not only deal with the stress of confronting an irate customer, but also has the product knowledge and company knowledge to answer difficult questions.  Customer service is ultimately a team activity and the entire company is that team.