Is everyone always telling you what great "people skills" you have? If so, a job in retail might be right for you. The retail industry has turned into one of the largest industries in the entire country. There are about 16 million people who work in the industry at the moment, and there is always a need for more retail workers.
One of the things you're going to have to be prepared to deal with when working in the retail space, though, is difficult customers. Whether you're a cashier, a sales associate, or a store manager, you'll need to know how to communicate effectively with customers who aren't happy with a product or service.
If you're looking for some tips, we've got you covered. Here is a retail worker's guide to dealing with difficult customers.
Begin by Listening Carefully to a Complaint a Customer Has
When a customer approaches you while you're working at your retail job and complains about something, your first instinct might be to try and offer up some kind of explanation. Rather than doing that, take the time to listen to the complaint so that you understand it.
If a customer is really worked up and frustrated beyond belief, encourage them to take a deep breath and calm down so that you can get a clear understanding of why they're so upset. Then, sit back and listen while they break it down for you.
If nothing else, difficult customers will appreciate you listening to them. They'll feel as though they're being heard, and they'll be less likely to take their frustrations out on you.
Try to Empathize With the Way a Customer Is Feeling
If you were in the position that a customer is in right now, how would you feel? That's a question you should ask yourself any time you find yourself faced with an irate customer.
There might be a part of you that is having a hard time wrapping your head around why a customer is so upset. But when you put yourself into their shoes, it might make it easier to see why they're so angry at the moment.
By stepping into the shoes of an angry person, you can see a situation more clearly through their eyes. Empathy is an important skill for those in retail to have, as it'll help you to communicate better with difficult customers.
Speak Slowly and Steer Clear of Raising Your Voice at a Customer
At some point during your interaction with a tough customer, you're going to be expected to speak. A customer will look for you to solve whatever problem they have.
When that time comes, it's important for you to speak slowly so that the customer understands everything that you're saying. It's also important for you to stay away from raising your voice and losing your cool.
If a customer attempts to talk over you while you're talking, you might be tempted to talk louder to get a point across. But the only thing this is going to do is force the customer to talk even louder than you are. Before you know it, you'll be shouting at one another and losing your tempers.
Work hard to maintain your composure while speaking at a reasonable volume. By doing this, you'll get a difficult customer to calm down and speak in a softer tone. It'll allow you to have a real conversation as opposed to a screaming match.
Avoid Taking Anything a Customer Says Too Personally
If a customer wants to be really difficult, they might make things personal while filing a complaint with you. They may say something to try and insult you.
If they decide to take this approach, you might get baited into saying something personal back. And before you know it, you and the customer will be going at it right in the middle of your retail store.
This is a great way to get yourself fired. Even if it was the customer who started things by stepping over the line, it's you who is going to pay the price for it. Your boss is not going to stand for you taking things to a personal level with a customer, no matter how difficult they might be.
You might feel offended by something a customer says while communicating with you. But you shouldn't stoop down to their level and hurl insults back in their direction.
Find out more about how to use positive language instead of negative language when talking to difficult customers.
Do Your Best to Work Towards a Solution With a Customer
At the end of the day, you might not be able to do exactly what a customer wants you to do to fix a problem they're having with a product or service your retail store sells. But you should make every effort to work towards some kind of solution for them.
That might mean offering to take back a defective product they bought in exchange for store credit. Or it might mean offering a partial refund on a service they were unhappy with.
In some cases, it might even mean doing something as simple as saying you're sorry for the experience that they had. That alone could go a long way towards calming a difficult customer down and making them a lot less angry than they were.
The key is to find the right solution on the spot to deescalate the situation. You'll have a much better chance of doing this when you follow the previous steps and build rapport with an angry customer.
Don't Let Difficult Customers Bring You Down When Working in Retail
Difficult customers will be a dime a dozen when you work in retail. Dealing with them comes with the territory.
But you don't have to allow them to bring you down. By figuring out the best ways to communicate with angry customers, you can make your job easier while keeping customers happier overall.
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