Customer service is a key component of both the event rentals and the event planning industries. Weddings and other significant events are so important in people's lives that you often end up with a high-stress situation leading up to the party. If you want to grow an event business, you have to be prepared to deal with everyone from a bridezilla, to a helicopter parent, to a person who simply insists they know more about your profession than you do. In these moments, the event pros who are able to remain calm and professional really stand out and also stand the greatest chance of improving their reputation and word-of-mouth marketing. So, we reached out to Life Coach, Evin Lipman of Uplift Journey for her advice on how to deal with a difficult client or customer.
Customer-facing roles can be highly rewarding, but there's no escaping the occasional (or not so occasional) "challenging" interaction. I'd venture to say that the worst part of these experiences isn't actually the difficult customer, it's the helpless feeling of your blood boiling, your good mood souring, and the way the experience lingers throughout the rest of your day. You can't change the customer, but the good news is you do get to control your own experience!
When you're dealing with a difficult customer:
Check your body. Your physiological state automatically syncs up with whomever you're interacting with, so a customer who's all hot and bothered will literally cause your temperature to rise and your pulse to quicken. Regain control of your body by intentionally slowing down your breath- inhaling for at least a count of 4 and exhaling to match.
Listen to understand. Our tendency during any kind of conflict is to be in our own heads while the other person is talking, already planning out our counter-response. This hinders your chances of resolution. Instead, practice truly listening to what your customer has to say as if you're hearing it for the first time. They'll sense and appreciate your willingness to hear them out, and when you do respond you'll be able to address them more thoughtfully and calmly.
Give them the benefit of the doubt. When someone's really riled up about something that seems trivial to you, the likelihood is there's something deeper going on than meets the eye. You know those days when everything seems to go wrong: you receive bad news about a loved one, a crisis hits at the office, the dog suddenly forgets that he's potty trained... and then one little insignificant thing incites a meltdown?? Assume your customer is having one of those days. If it's true, your empathy and patience could mean the world to him or her. Either way, your frustration and annoyance levels are down, and wasn't that the goal in the first place?
Bonus tip: Once that tricky interaction concludes, give yourself a moment to reset before charging into the rest of your work day. Take a walk around the block, watch a kitten/puppy/baby video, listen to your favorite song, or anything else to give yourself a fresh start. And, tempting as it can be, avoid retelling the story over and over, which only serves to waste more of your (and your colleagues') precious energy. Choose to move forward and leave the past in the past!
This is a guest post by Evin Lipman. Evin is a certified life coach, meditation and EFT Tapping teacher based in LA, and working with women globally via live video. Evin supports and guides her clients to experience increased self love, mindfulness, and personal empowerment, and specializes in the journey of finding and nourishing loving relationships.