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A day in the life of a business person can be filled with joy and
satisfaction or it can be frustrating and stressful. When things go wrong,
some people lose control. Holding emotions in check and reacting
professionally under fire are not always easy. It is particularly
difficult to be nice to people who are not being nice to you.
So what do you do to keep your cool when the customer is chewing you
out? Most of the time, it is not even your fault. It could be that the
problem was with a product or a service delivered by someone else in your
organization. You're getting the blame because the unhappy person found
you first, and it's not pleasant. When faced with angry people, there are
four key steps that will help diffuse the situation.
Step one is to apologize. "But," you say, "it's not my fault." It doesn't
matter who's to blame; apologize anyway. As a representative of your
company you have a responsibility to see that things go well. Your
willingness to be accountable will have a positive effect. After all, it
takes two to have an argument. If one of you refuses to be disagreeable you
can't have a disagreement. You are not accepting blame-you are simply
saying, "I'm sorry about the problem." You are wasting your breath unless
you apologize with complete sincerity so be sure that your tone of voice
matches your words.
Step two is to sympathize with the irate customer. Let the person know
that you can identify with his feelings. Say that you understand the
frustration of receiving a faulty product or poor service. The angry
person begins to feel better as soon as his reaction is validated.
Step three is to accept responsibility for the situation. Be accountable
to the customer. Let him know that you intend to do whatever it takes to
make things right. You can't help what has already happened, but you will
come up with a solution to the problem or you will find someone who can.
The last step is to take action. Decide what you can do and tell the
customer. You will replace the defective or incorrect product as quickly
as possible. If the issue was poor service deliver better
service. Whenever you can offer a bonus of some sort or waive fees, the
tiger before you is transformed into a pussycat.
Use the acronym "ASAP" to remember these four steps for calming upset
customers. Each letter stands for part of the process.
A is "apologize."
S represents "sympathize."
A stands for "accept responsibility."
P means "prepare to take action."
Nothing will be solved by becoming argumentative and reactionary. Instead,
diffuse the client's anger by being apologetic and sympathetic and focus on
positive steps that will resolve the situation. Before you know it, your
adversaries will become your allies.
Oh yes, remember to smile. It will make everyone feel better and behave
© 2005, Lydia Ramsey. All rights in all media reserved. Please reprint
article with by-line intact and all links made live.
Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker,
corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT
BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times,
Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day.
For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her
at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site