Keep Calm and Converse Better with Customers

October 7th, 2013 | Posted by Jeff Seeley in Communications Skills
Stay Calm for Better Customer Conversations

There's no doubt that talking to customers can be stressful at any juncture of the business relationship. Whether a sales representative is trying to convince a potential client to buy for the first time, upsell a past buyer or troubleshoot issues with a product or service, nerves are often a part of the equation. With some advice in mind and the right customer service and sales training, it's possible to stay cool, calm and collected in any high-pressure situation.

Don't over-script
It's critical to prepare in advance for important client interactions when possible, but in some cases, adhering too closely to a script can actually put an employee at a disadvantage. Fast Company pointed out that customer service and sales can be a lot like playing tennis: Players have to be in the moment and actively engaged with the situation in front of them. Staff members must realize that it's usually necessary to divert from the plan, as it's impossible to fully predict what customers will say. Following a script too strictly could even give a buyer the sense that he or she isn't being listened to. Once they start reacting to customers more actively, associates will be well-positioned to resolve more problems, close more sales and fuel higher levels of customer satisfaction. 

Don't take it personally
The news source also stressed that it can be disruptive to take negative customer comments too much to heart. Even if an individual is upset because he or she experienced a major problem, this doesn't mean that person is attacking representatives personally. Instead of becoming hurt or agitated, Fast Company advised, staff members should recognize the criticisms for their business-related nature. This way, employees can focus on accurately identifying what the client's goals and challenges are, rather than losing their cool.

Don't forget respect
The Manta Blog recommended that when a customer becomes upset, it's important to remain empathetic without mirroring the buyer's communication style. For instance, even if customers start speaking more loudly, customer service agents should keep their tones even. Additionally, if anything insulting is uttered, it goes without saying that it's critical for agents to remain professional. The source stated that if a situation starts to escalate, it's a good idea for the sales or customer service employee to try deep-breathing exercises to calm down, as well as to think carefully before speaking. It's not necessary to jump in with a response as soon as the client stops speaking, and a well-considered answer will be better received.

The more high-quality customer service training a business's staff members get, the greater their confidence will be as they attempt to navigate even the most challenging customer conversations. Training with an emphasis on communication skills can have a profound effect on success rates.

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