Most of us are involved in situations that need interactions with customers. If we are in selling or consulting jobs, we meet variety of customer. While many of our customers are thoughtful and patient, sometimes we do get a customer who is difficult to handle. It is quite possible that the customer had some bad experiences in past from which he wants to protect himself. But such “penny pinching” behavior causes enormous hardships for people dealing with them.
You are lucky if all your customers are nice and gentle. However in my consulting experience, I have met a number of customers who would not mind making life difficult for you because they have paid enormous money to your company or you. However, in my opinion you can through thoughtful planning and preparation tackle them easily. Let me share a few tips on how to do that.
- Try to know about them in advance
- Get prepared for the questions
- Listen more and interrupt less
Ask around. Try to check how did the customer acted in meetings with say your colleagues. Network. Find more and more about him but in a discrete manner. This will help you to prepare better for the meetings. I would cover all my flanks if I knew that the customer was an aggressive type. I would be more prepared if I knew his likes and dislikes.
Try to guess and prepare questions based on your prior experience. If you had come across such a situation before you can take hints from there. To go in front of a customer who is demanding, unprepared is a disaster. Note down all possible questions and the answers that you would give. This will not preempt everything but at least important areas will be covered.
Difficult customers have their way with words. They want to sound important. They will not mind provoking you. They will ask you searching questions. They will question your assumptions. You have to soak everything. Just keep a broad mind and listen to him/her without interruptions. If you interrupt often, it might be held against you.
Read more part 2 below this post