Every business has them: difficult customers. Dealing with them successfully — so that they remain customers — rests on a few techniques that revolve around asking the right questions.
These approaches come from a new book, Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others, by Andrew Sobel.
Customer demands a discount. If you or your staff say no immediately, customers will likely end the conversation. Instead, say:
- “I can respond to that request more effectively if I understand what’s behind it. Can you tell me something about why you need a discount or feel our price is too high?”
- “I should be able to reduce the price if we increase the sale quantity or you could agree to a long-term contract. Would you like me to work on this option?”
- Then to confirm a new agreement has been set, “When can we have this ready for you?”
Customer gets off track and angry. To cool a customer’s jets and get back on track, say:
- “Can we slow down for a minute and get refocused?”
- “Can we start over again?”
Customer complains incessantly. Customers who can’t stop complaining sometimes need to move forward. Make that happen by asking:
- “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. How do you think things got to this point?”
- “This is important. How do you think we can best respond to it?”