Awkward conversations with customers can be turned around, but it’s not easy. When a difficult subject must be discussed with a customer, there’s always the potential for awkward silences, or worse, conflict. You should follow a predetermined process when having potentially awkward conversations with customers.
What types of awkward conversations can arise between a company and a customer? We share several examples in this blog post as well as some applicable tips for managing awkward conversations with customers.
3 Ways to Manage Awkward Conversations with Customers
The conversation: Customer wants you to honor expired coupon
It’s hard to tell a customer no, especially when they’re friendly. But if a promotion or coupon you’ve advertised in the past is expired, you can’t make regular exceptions. This can be an awkward conversation if you don’t know how to approach it.
Instead of caving and honoring an expired coupon or promotion, be friendly and calm as you stand your ground. The customer understands that expiration dates exist for a reason. Calmly explain that the coupon they’ve mentioned is expired and remind them of the end date of the promotion. Be apologetic but firm.
The conversation: Customer received poor service and is angry
Admitting fault is never easy, and if a customer is calling to give feedback about a negative experience with your company, it’s going to be a little more difficult. This situation can feel awkward for the person answering the call because it’s hard to agree with the customer without throwing the business under the bus, but there’s a trick to doing it.
Listen, above all else, to the customer. Really hear and understand their complaint, and repeat it back to them to ensure you’ve got a full understanding. Be human and respond to the complaints they’ve made – if they say they called 5 times and didn’t get an answer, it’s okay to agree with them that that practice is completely unacceptable and work together to find the right solution.
The conversation: Customer’s payment method didn’t clear
Few things are more awkward than letting someone know their payment method didn’t clear. Whether it’s a POS transaction and a credit card won’t go through or a bounced check, telling a customer that they don’t have the necessary funds to pay for an item or service can be cringe-worthy.
But it doesn’t have to be. Remaining professional, kind, and understanding throughout the discussion will put the customer at ease and make the conversation less painful for both sides. Don’t act judgmental or frustrated that a customers’ payment didn’t clear – it happens to everyone, and sometimes, technical issues are at play. Remember to respect the customer and be discreet if this happens. Don’t announce loudly that their card is declined or make a show of calling an employee to re-stock the items they tried to purchase. Make the interaction as painless as possible to diffuse the awkwardness.