May 23, 2019

Five difficult situations you’ll encounter in a customer service job – and how to deal with them

Businesses sometimes get things wrong, so when mistakes happen, it’s important to get things right as quickly as you can.

So, here’s some advice on how to respond to five difficult situations you might encounter in a retail job:

1 – When a customer is unhappy with a product or service

At a restaurant, a customer might be unsatisfied with a meal or have reason to believe that their food wasn’t cooked to their liking (e.g. they request a ‘medium rare’ steak but end up with a ‘well done’ steak). Or at a shop, a customer might complain that a product they recently purchased is faulty or doesn’t meet their expectations.

Check your company’s returns policy to make sure the customer is entitled to a refund. Even if the customer isn’t technically entitled to their money back for whatever reason (e.g. a missed deadline) tell them that you will speak with your manager and see what you can do. This shows that you are willing to be flexible and care about finding a solution for the customer.

2 – When a customer writes a negative review online

It’s never been easier to write an online review of any business. From Google and Facebook to TripAdvisor and Trustpilot, there are many opportunities for customers to give feedback on their experience of your business and its products or services. From time to time, you might receive a negative review that takes you by surprise.

Occasionally, a customer might give a very low rating (e.g. 1 out of 5) if they believe they have had a very poor experience. Now, this may seem unfair if you remember that customer and don’t agree with their opinion. However, in this situation, it’s important to respond quickly and try to offer a resolution. Offer the customer the opportunity to speak with you on the phone or to message you privately (or arrange a meeting in your office) then try to find out as much information as you can about the problem. If there’s been a genuine mistake, apologise for the inconvenience and offer the customer an incentive to use your business again (such as a gift voucher).

3 – When a customer starts making a scene

You’ve probably seen it before. A customer starts shouting and becomes the centre of attention. This is a tricky scenario even for an experienced retail manager. Firstly, try to get the customer to calm down. Show that you empathise with their situation and offer to speak with them in a more private setting (if possible). If that doesn’t work and the customer starts hurling insults at you, refer to a more senior member of staff.

4 – When a customer doesn’t realise that they’ve made a mistake

Let’s face it, human beings are very bad at admitting when they’re wrong. However, if you can provide proof that a customer is in the wrong, you need to tell them. Often, when faced with evidence, a customer will admit that they’ve made a mistake. However, if you don’t have proof, it’s important not to make any assumptions about who is at fault.  Likewise, never accept responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault – but do try to find out why the customer was unsatisfied.

5 – When a customer makes unreasonable demands

Imagine a restaurant gives the same meal to five customers. Four of the customers were happy with the meal, but one was unsatisfied and demands a refund. Firstly, you need to ask why the customer was unhappy. If the customer doesn’t come up with any meaningful responses (e.g. ‘I just didn’t like the flavour’) accept that they are entitled to their opinion but not to a refund. Don’t give in to unreasonable demands, even if this means a customer may never use your business again.

Hopefully, you’ll find all the above useful. If you haven’t already, please submit your CV to our database so you can access all the latest retail jobs.