Four Simple Steps on How to Deal With Abusive Customers
By Tracey Gundersen, CEO, Warranty Management Technologies
Abusive clients are, unfortunately, a part of the new home customer service process, a tiny part, but a part nonetheless.
Establishing a procedure on how personnel should deal with abusive clients nurtures better long-term customer relationships. Look at a situation involving an upset and enraged customer as a chance to improve your product and service.
A written procedure guides your staff, reduces stress and may keep you out of legal hot water. After all, one enraged customer can drag down your entire warranty service department. Left unchecked, an irate customer can turn vengeful and destroy a company.
When encountering abusive clients, Carol Smith, author of numerous best-selling new-home customer service books including “Meetings With Clients: A Self-Study Manual for a Builder's Frontline Personnel,” recommends the following four steps in order to avoid stressful situations:
- Always conduct yourself in a business like manner.
Instead of sarcasm, respond with healthy detachment. Avoid engaging in an argument and provide a realistic outlook. Don’t yell, use self control.
- Establish boundaries and empathize with your client.
Tell them in a normal tone of voice, “I understand that you're angry. I'm here to help. I do have limits on how we communicate. If you will stop (using that language, threatening me, intimidating, etc.), we can continue talking. Otherwise, I'll end this conversation and will call you tomorrow.”
- If the client continues, end the conversation by calmly leaving the meeting or gently hanging up the phone.
- Document the call on an incident report.
Make sure to date and time the incident. Mark your calendar for a follow-up call.
Defusing a potentially nasty situation allows everyone to get their emotions under control and think rationally. We're here to solve problems, not compound them.
Now, doesn't that feel better than a swollen vein on your head?
Tracey Gundersen is the founder and CEO of Warranty Management Technologies, LLC, of Burnsville, Minn. The firm provides warranty process management software, consulting services and fully-outsourced customer service to new home builders. For more information, e-mail Gundersen, call her at 952-707-0725 or visit www.homsoft.com.
‘Meetings With Clients’ Tackles Issues Confronting Front-Line Personnel
“Meetings With Clients: A Self-Study Manual for a Builder's Frontline Personnel,” available at BuilderBooks.com, covers four major issues confronting a builder’s front-line personnel: pre-construction meeting, frame stage tour, new home buyer orientation and warranty service.
Master each of these issues with step-by-step instructions on policies, procedures, predictable situations and how to handle problems that arise during orientation.
“Meetings With Clients” also serves as the self-study guide for candidates of certification as a customer relations professional.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
NAHB Has Nearly 300 Resources to Help You Run Your Business More Profitably
Go to NAHB's Business Management Tools Web pages (available to members only) for instant access to nearly 300 timesaving, moneymaking and cost-cutting business resources to help you run your business more profitably. Get guidance on accounting and financial management, business strategy, computers and information technology, customer service, human resources and more.
Resources are added weekly, so bookmark www.nahb.org/biztools to go directly to these vital business management resources.
Local and state home builders associations can link directly to www.nahb.org/biztools from their Web site and give their members instant access to these resources. It will make your HBA's Web site the place to go for the information and guidance that members need to succeed.
Enhance Customer Service With Publications From BuilderBooks.com
In trying economic times, strong customer service can be one of the best business-building strategies. BuilderBooks.com offers several publications on customer service so builders can start building strong relationships before breaking ground and turn customers into enthusiastic sales people.
Titles are available from authors such as Carol Smith, who intimately knows the industry and is a major participant in educational programs at the International Builders’ Show every year.
To view or purchase these publications online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
Free NAHB Kit Gives Builders Back-to-Basics Tips to Navigate the Slowdown
What was once expected to be a relatively mild housing slump following three years of record new home construction and sales has given way to a significant downturn.
To help members navigate the uncharted waters of this slowdown, NAHB has compiled a comprehensive “Back to Basics” online toolkit — the best of the basics, the tried and true and the truly new. To access the toolkit, click here.
To access the “Back to Basics” toolkit, you must be an NAHB member and have a login to www.nahb.org. To create a login, go to www.nahb.org/login or click on the log-in button on the main menu bar.
For assistance, call the NAHB Member Service Center at 800-368-5242.