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Effective Strategies for Managing Difficult Customers: Service Breakdowns, Problem Solving, and Serv

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

LO 7-1 Define what a service breakdown is.
LO 7-2 Apply knowledge of behavioral styles in difficult customer situations.
LO 7-3 Recognize different types of difficult customers and effectively deal with them.
LO 7-4 Use the emotion-reducing model to help keep difficult situations from escalating.
LO 7-5 Explain why customers defect.
LO 7-6 Develop effective strategies for working with internal customers.
LO 7-7 Identify strategies for preventing customer dissatisfaction and problem solving.
LO 7-8 Explain the six steps of the problem-solving model.
LO 7-9 Implement a frontline service recovery strategy and spot roadblocks to service recovery.
LO 7-10 Discuss the importance of disaster planning initiatives in the service recovery process.

Brief Chapter Outline

I. What Is a Service Breakdown?
II. The Role of Behavioral Style
III. Difficult Customers
A. Demanding or Domineering Customers
B. Indecisive Customers
C. Dissatisfied and Angry Customers
D. Rude or Inconsiderate Customers
E. Talkative Customers
IV. Handling Emotions with the Emotion-Reducing Model
V. Reasons for Customer Defection
VI. Working with Internal Customers (Coworkers)
A. Stay Connected
B. Meet All Commitments
C. Do Not Sit on Your Emotions
D. Build a Professional Reputation
E. Adopt a Good-Neighbor Policy
VII. Strategies for Preventing Dissatisfaction and Problem Solving
A. Make Positive Initial Contact
B. Think Like the Customer
C. Pamper the Customer
D. Respect the Customer
E. Exceed Expectations
F. Responding to Conflict
G. Causes of Conflict
H. Salvaging Relationships after Conflict
VIII. The Problem-Solving Process
A. 1. Identify the Problem
B. 2. Compile and Analyze the Data
C. 3. Identify the Alternatives
D. 4. Evaluate the Alternatives
E. 5. Make a Decision
F. 6. Monitor the Results
IX. Implementing a Service Recovery Strategy
A. 1. Apologize, Apologize, and Apologize Again
B. 2. Take Immediate Action
C. 3. Show Compassion
D. 4. Provide Compensation
E. 5. Conduct Follow-Up
X. Disaster Planning Initiatives in the Service Recovery Process
Chapter Outline and Lecture Notes

I. What Is a Service Breakdown?

Service breakdowns occur daily in all types of organizations.
They happen whenever the product or service delivered fails to meet customer expectations.
When a product or service fails to meet what the customer wants or needs, dissatisfaction and frustration can result.
Customer expectations can affect how service is delivered and perceived.
Today’s customers are more discerning and better educated, have access to more up-to-date and accurate information, and are often more demanding than in the past.

II. The Role of Behavioral Style

Behavior style preferences play a major part in how people interact.
Styles also affect the types of things people want and value.
The more service providers know about behavioral style preferences, the easier it becomes to deal with people in a variety of situations and help match their needs with the products and services the service providers and their organizations can provide.
?Service providers should keep in mind that everyone possesses one or a combination of the four following different behavioral styles:
oRational—prefer one-on-one or small-group interaction, are congenial and patient, avoid conflict, and dislike calling attention to themselves.
oInquisitive—rarely volunteer feelings, ask “why” questions, desire facts and figures, and are formal, task-oriented, conservative, and punctual.
oDecisive—are decisive, directive, task- and goal-focused, confident, and competitive; seek immediate gratification or results; and talk more than listen.
oExpressive—are open, laid back, flexible, positive, enthusiastic, and informal; prefer dealing with people; and easily share feelings and emotions.
Because customers can display various types of behavior from time to time, service providers should carefully observe their behavior and learn about each style as an indicator of the type of person with whom they are dealing.

Brief Chapter Outline

III. Difficult Customers

Difficult customers are people who challenge a service provider’s ability to deliver service and who require special skills and patience.
From time to time, service providers will be called upon to help customers who can be described in one or more of the following ways:
Dissatisfied with the service or products.
Indecisive or lack knowledge about the product, service, or policies.
Rude or inconsiderate of others.
Internal customers with special requests.
Speak a primary language other than the one spoken by the service provider.
Elderly and need extra assistance.
Young and inexperienced who might need to be guided in making a good choice.
Have some type of a disability.
A key to successfully serving all types of customers is to treat each person as an individual.
If service providers stereotype people, they will likely damage the customer–provider relationship and might even generate complaints to their supervisor or legal action against them and their organization based on perceived discrimination.
Service providers will ultimately deliver successful service through their effective communication skills, positive attitude, patience, knowledge, service experience, and willingness to help the customer.

A. Demanding or Domineering Customers

Demanding or domineering are customers who have definite ideas about what they want and are unwilling to compromise or accept alternatives.
Some strategies for effectively handling demanding customers are:
Be professional.
Respect the customer.
Be firm and fair and focus on the customer’s needs.
Tell the customer what you can do.
By being thoroughly familiar with the organization’s policies and procedures and their limits of authority, service providers will be prepared to negotiate with demanding customers.

B. Indecisive Customers

Indecisive customers are people who have difficulty making a decision or making a selection when given choices of products or services.
Strategies for dealing with an indecisive person are:
Be patient.
Ask open-end questions.
Listen actively.
Suggest other options.
Guide decision making.

C. Dissatisfied and Angry Customers

Dissatisfied customers are people who either do not (or perceive that they do not) receive promised or quality products and services.
In order to calm dissatisfied customers and make them happy, service providers could try the following strategies:
Listen with an open mind to try and discover the basis for their anger or dissatisfaction.
Remain positive and flexible while showing a willingness to work with the customer or negotiate.
Smile, give your name, and offer assistance.
Be compassionate and empathize without making excuses.
Ask open-end questions and verify information.
Take appropriate action.
Angry customers are customers who become emotional because either their needs are not met or they are dissatisfied with the services or products purchased from an organization.
Some possible tactics of handling angry customers are:
Be positive.
Acknowledge the customer’s feelings or anger.
Remain objective.
Listen actively; determine the cause.
Reduce frustrations.
Negotiate a solution.
Conduct a follow-up.
Service providers should strive to do the unexpected and provide quality service to create a memorable customer experience underpromise and overdeliver and do whatever possible (within their authority) to rectify a situation in which a customer is dissatisfied with their product or service in order to ensure customer satisfaction.

D. Rude or Inconsiderate Customers

Rude or inconsiderate customers are people who seem to take pleasure in being obstinate and contrary when dealing with service providers and who seem to have their own agenda without concern for the feelings of others.
Service providers could try the following strategies to deal with rude or inconsiderate customers:
Remain professional.
Do not resort to retaliation.

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