Tag: customers

Visual merchandising 101 

AcknowledgementHumayun Khan, content crafter at Shopify 

When you’re diving into the world of retail either through a pop-up shop or your own boutique retail store, one of the key sales metrics you’re going to want to focus on is “sales per square footage, which is the average revenue a retail business generates for every square foot of sales space. 
Essentially, your “retail space” has to be your most productive and most efficient salesperson, and how you go about optimising your sales space for maximum revenue is to employ the art and science of visual merchandising.  
The word “visual” may cause a few grimaces; people think that they’re not creative, artistic, or stylish enough to make a retail space look good enough to lure customers in and persuade them to hand over their money for products.  

Yes, the discipline requires a sense of aesthetic – but remember that it’s also a science, which means that it’s a tried and true method that has been studied with results to show for it, results that you can replicate and recreate for your own store.  

However, it’s also important to recognise that the field of visual merchandising encompasses a lot of distinctive retail design topics and covers everything from creating the window display a prospective customer first sees, to the signage you put up and the layout you decide on to direct your traffic and a whole lot more. 

Begin with your target customer in mind
Knowing your target customer inside and out will help you tremendously when it comes creating effective merchandising displays. I’m not just talking about being familiar with demographic data like their age, income, and education level, but digging a little deeper into their psychographics and behaviours. In other words, target not just individual customers but their lifestyles too.

Find some inspiration
Thanks to the Internet you no longer have to wait around for that brilliant idea to hit you when you’re thinking about putting together your next merchandising display. Instead, there are a number of invaluable resources available in the form of blogs and boards on Pinterest.
It can be really easy to focus on just creating visually stimulating displays and forget about the other four senses, but the secret to creating an engaging and immersive experience is to create a multi-sensory experience or what’s known in the industry as “sensory branding. 
Let’s take a closer look at how you could go about doing just that: 

  • Sight – there is an endless array of visual cues you can play around with to communicate your message. From using colours for their psychological triggers, to leveraging lighting, symmetry, balance, contrast and focus to direct and control where a customer looks and for how long, it’s one of the most fascinating components of merchandising.  
  • Sound – the music you play in your store has such a profound yet subtle effect on how your customers behave. Depending on who you’re trying to target and bring in, you can slow people down by playing more mellow music and causing them to browse, or playing Top 40 to communicate that you want teenagers in your store 
  • Touch – this one’s probably the easiest to get right in that you need to simply remember to put your best foot forward and give customers the ability to touch, feel, and try out whatever it is you’re looking to sell.  
  • Smell – believe it or not, there’s an entire science to what’s referred to as “scent marketing, with several studies and real-world case studies of global brands like Samsung, Sony, and Verizon applying it to their advantage. The reason being that smell is considered to be a fast track to the system in your brain that controls both emotion and memory – two very prominent factors behind why we choose one brand over another.
  • Taste – this can work magic if you happen to be in the business of selling consumables, giving people the ability to taste and sample before they buy is the equivalent of letting people try on clothes, a general and effective best practice. 

Show, don’t tell
Before people purchase something they typically want an idea of what it will look and feel like. To accommodate this need you can set up your merchandise display in a way people identify with and could envision in their own home or on themselves. 
For example, the sales floor in furniture stores are set-up with displays that make it easy for people to envision how the same products could be set-up in their own homes, or kitchenware stores having their merchandise displayed like how it might look in a given kitchen and so on. 
Another prominent way apparel retailers do this is by creating policies that require their sales staff to wear the clothing they’re selling. And of course, the most tried and true example of this would be the mannequin, who you could style according to your latest releases and style. 
This tactic gives prospective customers an immediate point of reference and as soon as they can envision your product on themselves or in their homes, you can consider it as good as sold. 

Group like with like
Grouping like products with like products will give your customers additional reasons to buy more items from you, but it also has a more utilitarian reasoning behind it, namely saving them time from looking around and trying to mix and match things. 
It’s one of the reasons grocery stores will put dips right beside their chips, or peanut butter with jams. 
You can also think of it as creating categories, but you don’t need to limit your creativity there, you can also create “groupings” within categories. That means having merchandise that might be the same colour, price, size, or type together. 

The rule of three
In creating displays, most visual merchandisers will often refer to the rule of three, which means that when creating a display, try to work in sets of three. This means that based on how you’re arranging your products, you’ll want to have three of them side by side, instead of just one. For example, if you were arranging things by height, you’d have items that were short, medium, and tall.  

The reason behind this thinking is that our eyes are most likely to keep moving and looking around when we’re looking at something asymmetrical, because when we see some symmetrical or balanced they stop dead in their track. 
This also alludes to the “Pyramid Principle, where if you have one item at the top and all other items “one step down”, it forces the eye to look at the focal point and then work its way down. 

Use light to dictate mood and attention 
This ties into engaging your customer’s senses and guiding them to experience different moods and emotions based on your store’s lighting. Whether they feel like they’re in a nightclub, a fashion runway, or right at home will depend largely on how you decide to use lighting. 
Using spotlights to highlight certain products is also a sure-fire way to direct attention and make sure people pay attention to your top products.   

Change it up
Remember that when trying to optimise your square footage for the most sales, a scientific approach of formulating a hypothesis, executing on your idea, and then testing for results will put you in the routine of trying out new ideas and sticking with what works.  
With these tips in mind, go out and give them a shot on one of your merchandising display to see for yourself how you can increase sales through the way you display your products and create a more engaging experience. 

Nedbank’s client data hacked

Source: Xinhuanet

Nedbank service provider’s IT systems have been breached, exposing the personal information of up to 1.7 million clients, said the bank last Thursday.

Computer Facilities, which does direct marketing for Nedbank by sending short messages and email marketing information on behalf of the bank, was breached.
The bank said there was some “potentially compromised data” which included names, identity cards numbers, telephone numbers, physical and/or email addresses.

“We regret the incident … and the matter is receiving our urgent attention. The safety and security of our clients’ information is a top priority,” said Nedbank CEO Mike Brown, adding that the bank systems or client accounts were not impacted.

“We are communicating directly with affected clients. We are also taking the necessary actions in close cooperation with the relevant regulators and authorities,” said Brown.

Nedbank group Chief Information Officer Fred Swanepoel said they have secured and destroyed all their client information held by Computer Facilities.

Last year the City of Johannesburg’s system was hacked and some payment in bitcoins were demanded. In 2017 South Africa’s insurance company Liberty was hacked and demanded ransom.

By Nomzamo Radebe, CEO of Excellerate JHI

There can be no doubt that digital processes and technology will underpin future retail, but what does this really mean for local brands and companies? Arguably, the first step towards future-proofing retail is to understand what the customer of the future looks like.

Today, with endless information at their fingertips, consumers are well informed, demanding, and in a rush. And while many ‘gurus’ have foretold the death of the brick and mortar store, consumers continue to go to malls for both shopping and entertainment. Essentially, retailers and property development partners have to balance out contradictory messages and trends: are they preparing for a digitally driven environment with e-commerce at the centre? Or must retailers find a way to merge hyper-connected, digital habits with physical shopping experiences?

Seamlessly connected, 24/7

As of 2017, there were 3.4 billion global Internet users, which equates to 46% of the population, according to Euromonitor. By 2022, that figure will reach 58%. Along with more people becoming connected, more ‘things’ will become connected – with devices of all kinds constantly generating and sharing data. Yes, this is the Internet of Things (IoT), which will become fundamental to individual lives and purchasing habits. In homes, connected fridges will automatically send notifications when certain things are running low – and may even send a grocery list directly to the owner’s device.

For retailers, the rise of the Internet of Things and overall hyper connectivity means that consumers will be very specific in what they are looking for – and will demand that the retail experience deliver on their needs both seamlessly and instantaneously. Retailers will have to harness technology, including IoT, to create a ‘friction-free’ environment. For instance, the use of chatbots can make sure that when consumers are online they receive immediate and data-driven feedback or help.

Embracing cash-free living

With the enormous popularity of cash-free or cashless services such as Uber and Lyft, even credit and debit cards are beginning to look obsolete. Already, some analysts are forecasting the shift towards an entirely cashless society – and consumers are increasingly demonstrating their keenness to ditch cash. In South Africa, many are already leaving their wallets at home as smartphones become the new [digital] wallet. According to a study by PayPal, 85% of respondents used their mobile phones to make a purchase in 2017, and 46% said being able to shop on their mobile phones has made them buy more. Tellingly, the majority of South Africans would rather leave home without their wallets than leave home without their beloved device.

Conscious living, conscious shopping

With dramatic climate change now firmly on the global agenda, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impact – which includes their shopping habits. According to research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, ‘consumers expect brands to be sustainable and are willing to pay more to support those that are.’ In a 2018 study titled New Sustainability, the firm stated that 89% of those surveyed ‘care personally’ about protecting the planet; 92% said they are trying to live more sustainably, while 83% would always pick the brand that has a better record of sustainability.

With digital transformation now becoming a global business imperative, local retailers will have to ensure that their digital strategies closely reflect the evolving needs – and values – of their customers.

The true cost of customers’ online experiences

By Charlie Stewart for Roger Wilco

By 2021, over 20-million South Africans will shop online. This is a third of the country’s population. But, while the commercial opportunity is obvious – currently eCommerce accounts for R14-billion of the total retail pie, or 1,4% – local brands aren’t taking full advantage. So reveals The Cost of Online CX: A R34-billion Opportunity, 2019 South African Digital Customer Experience Report. Commissioned by performance marketing agency, Rogerwilco, it was released today.

Among key findings the study found that 71% of South African online shoppers abandon a purchase at the digital tillpoint. The commercial cost of this for local e-marketers is staggering accounting for a loss of around R34-billion* worth of goods per annum.

So what’s going wrong? According to online South Africans, payment failure is a big issue (57%), while site speed (38%), being unable to find what they are looking for (37%) and difficulty in navigating the site (27%) all impact the likelihood of an end sale.

“Brands are hell bent on brand building and client acquisition – at the detriment of conversion. I see brands throwing heaps of money to get people to their sites and then they spend less on creating an ideal environment when they get there. If they curb their acquisition budget and put it into the very fundamental elements to give it a better experience, they will convert more customers,” says Charlie Stewart, CEO of Rogerwilco.


Provide a helping hand – or bot

Customer service and support is also a big pain point, with over half of those surveyed saying that there is no-one to help them when they get stuck. “There needs to be an improved on-demand support for customers and also brands need to look at why customers need help to make online purchases in the first place – you shouldn’t need a support service if the experience works. What is failing in the customer journey that is causing customers to feel that they need support? This is a big red flag. Digital shouldn’t be a channel where you need customer service, it should be seamless self-service,” comments Julia Ahlfeldt, a Certified Customer Experience Professional.

Chatbots might well be the answer, although there are some misperceptions about what a chatbot is. “Businesses can address this by creating a persona that has some human traits which make it more relatable. Anything that can ease the journey is a good thing,” says Stewart. “Doing so can lead to a 30% saving in customer service costs. Furthermore, chatbots are bringing in the bacon; it is estimated that by 2023 retail sales via chatbots will account for $112-billion.”

Despite the commercial opportunity, bots aren’t every brand’s best friend, yet. “A percentage of our Customer Service queries can be solved using AI, but the majority can’t – highly personalised recommendations are an important part of our offering. Over time we intend to build a repository of information that will enable AI chatbots to deliver at a similar standard, but this is years away. Will a chatbot be able to talk a customer through the essentials for a summit of Kilimanjaro; it will take time before it can really understand customer needs,” comments Cape Union Mart’s Kia Abbott.

Better experiences = better returns

When brands do get it right, 44,5% of consumers report that they’ll spend more online. This also increases in relation to higher incomes; almost 60% of those who earn over R30 000 a month said they will buy more from a brand if the online experience is a good one.

“We consistently see that customers who have a seamless experience on our platform spend more money with us, so it makes clear commercial sense to continue to identify and remove points of friction. This can be as simple as enabling buyers to set up alerts so they are notified as soon as a product they’re looking for becomes available and having automated prompts that guide advertisers on how to categorise their products with tools that rate the quality of the images that accompany their ads,” comments Gumtree’s digital marketing manager Michael Walker.

Up against the best in the world

Notwithstanding site speed, good navigation and customer support, local brands are also being compared to international giants like Uber and Amazon, whose apps often sit side-by-side local brands. “Look at anyone’s mobile phone screen and it’s likely you’ll see local and international brands’ apps sitting side by side,” says ovatoyou’s Amanda Reekie. “Consumers dip in and out of these brands all day long, switching from Uber to News24 or Netflix to Takealot in milliseconds. And they expect a seamless experience across all of their apps; there is no differentiation in their minds between South African and global brands – they all need to work as well as each other.”

To overcome this brands must invest more in their apps’ usability to make sure that the experience is intuitive and not only be as good as their nearest competitor but as good as Uber.

Face to face

While banking online or via an app is the most common reason why consumers are online in the first place, with 85% of the sample reporting they use the platform for this reason, not everything can be fulfilled online; consumers still want a degree of physical contact, especially with financial services.

“When considering our customer journey, across income groups, consumers prefer to engage with us through human-manned channels. They’re comfortable with searching for information in the first part of their journey, when looking for options to meet their needs, however when they get to the buying phase they seem to be hesitant to make that in a digital environment and they want to fulfil the buying decision in a human environment, such as a call centre or face to face. This is a nuance of financial services as people tend to like human touch points,” comments a CX expert from a leading insurance provider.

Reinforcing this preference for a human over machine, 37% of those surveyed said it’s easier to go into a store or a bank branch.

Vicious venting

If customers don’t get what they want online, they are very quick to bad mouth a brand: a whopping 99% of consumers said they would tell friends and family about their ordeals. “In a world where people rely more and more on advice and recommendations from friends and family – and that then influences them as to where they spend their money – these experiences are more powerful than above the line marketing; you believe your friend over an ad. For existing brands, if there are negative experiences out there it just piles onto the brand. People still talk about experiences that happened years ago; it’s hurting you today and will hurt you tomorrow. On the other hand, those that had a good experience leads to a repurchase (44,5%). I think that if brands can look at this and understand this, that if I deliver a good experience, then 44% will spend more and recommend to friends and family, what is the knock-on effect of this? Bad experiences are the silent killer; you don’t feel the pain until it’s too late,” says Ahlfeldt.

Getting it right

While there are no quick fixes, brands that have online platforms, can and should address common consumer challenges. “Given the rate at which South Africans are coming online and using the digital platform to engage with and buy from brands, businesses should be investing far more than the average 10 – 24% of their marketing budget on their sites, to prevent them throwing billions of Rands down the drain thanks to high incidences of shopping cart abandonment!
“Site speed, good UX, offering customer support and making sure products are available online are all relatively easy things that brands can do to improve their customers’ experience and which when implemented will significantly increase consumer loyalty, return visits and ultimately sales.”

How to recognise the lies customers tell

Source: Sales Guru

A white lie here, a fib there …

Just how honest is your prospect being with you?

We uncovered the top 5 lies favoured by your prospect. They’re naughty, but here’s how to play the lying game the professional way.

Lie 5: We don’t have the budget
Almost never true, lie 5 really means “we have the budget, but it’s been assigned to other projects with higher priority”.

Your move: Ask questions to find out where the money is currently being spent. Once you’ve discovered what’s funded and why to reposition your offering and the value it provides so that it becomes a higher priority than budget items that are currently funded.

Lie 4: I make all the buying decisions
NEVER does ONE executive make all the buying decisions. There is always consultation with others or a decision-making process that needs to be followed.

Your move: Ask about the specific reporting structure and gently probe to find out the “stakeholders” who “influence” the decision. Read between the lines and you’ll probably be able to figure out which people actually have to be sold in order for a deal to go through.

Lie 3: Your competition is cheaper OR we always get a discount
This may be true, or it may not be true. Either way, don’t fall for this popular tactic – it’s simply meant to entice you to drop your prices.

Your move: Position your offering, and the privilege of working with you and your company, as being of much higher value than working with your competitor. If they’re demanding a discount, they’re testing to see whether they ‘got the best deal’. If you do indeed drop the price, you’ll lose credibility and end up cutting a non-profitable deal. Both loses, and no wins (for you).

Lie 2: I’m sorry I missed our meeting
If they miss a meeting more than once, then there’s no way that they’re telling the truth. Fact is, they may want to blow you off and they don’t have the courage to say so.

Your move: Once you’ve calmed down, reassess the viability of meeting with the client again and try to schedule another rendezvous if you think it’s worth it (it’s almost always worth it).

Lie 1: She’s not in the office right now
If you’re cold calling, this is almost undoubtedly a lie – fed to you by the PA or receptionist or similar gatekeeper.
But the gatekeeper is just doing their job: keeping you away from the decision-maker.

Your move: Pretend that it’s true, always, and remain calm. Ask when would be a good time to call. You may need to sell the gatekeeper on the idea that your call is important enough to put through.

By Roxanne Henderson for Business Day

From free burgers and ride-hailing services to hip-hop concerts and discounted petrol, SA banks are going all out to win customers as competition hots up.

The biggest lenders are facing an onslaught of entrants for the first time in 12 years. And they are responding before the newcomers find their feet by pushing loyalty programmes, revamping digital offerings for technology-savvy millennials, targeting existing customers with extra products and services and cutting fees.

Read the full article here: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/financial-services/2019-04-24-banks-entice-millennials-with-free-food-and-new-offerings/

By Daniel Cooper for Engadget

Problematic transportation outfit Uber is thinking about a way to use your phone to determine if you’ve been drinking. A patent application was uncovered by CNN, entitled “Predicting user state using machine learning,” which outlines the general idea. Essentially, by watching how you behave day-to-day, the system can pick up when your behavior is normal (for you) or abnormal. That could be, for instance, how you use your phone, the angle at which you hold it, and even how you’re walking.

Obviously there are some common sense elements to this, too, especially if you’re requesting a ride in the small hours from a notorious night spot. The thinking is that drivers will be fed this information ahead of you boarding the vehicle to better prepare them for what’s coming. A cynical reading of the plans could mean that drivers choose not to pick up a ride from a drunk passenger to avoid trouble. That would likely mean they’re left fending for themselves or, worse still, choose to drive themselves instead.

Of course, patent applications are mostly the province of companies wealthy enough to devote such time to dreaming up new ideas. Wacky concepts and ideas are patented all the time in the hope that, in years to come, they prove to be both useful and profitable. There’s no indication that this system is going to pop up in Uber’s customer-facing app in the near future, although it certainly could do.

85% of FNB customer interactions are digital

The vast majority of First National Bank’s (FNB’s) customer interactions are via digital platforms, with only 1.2% still happening face-to-face in branches.

This is according to Christoph Nieuwoudt, FNB consumer segment CEO, who says in 2016, FNB customers had over 10 billion interactions with the bank, of which only 120 million were face-to-face.

The bank says roughly 8.5 billion (85%) of interactions were purely through digital channels and the rest via point-of-sale (card swipes or online purchases) and ATM transactions.

“The number of FNB customer interactions has tripled since 2010, growing at more than 20% per annum every year, based on the growth in digital channels. Meanwhile, at branches, customers are making significant use of in-branch digital zones,” adds Nieuwoudt.
“One thing we can all agree on is that digital progress is inevitable.”

He says the implications of the use of technology by society are immensely profound, with terms such as “The Second Machine Age” or the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” being used to give this evolution a name.

“The reasons for the growth and migration of volumes to digital are obvious as almost every customer knows they can do basically any payment transaction, account or card service function and get most products…via the FNB app, online or cellphone banking,” he says.

However, Nieuwoudt says this does not mean branches will go out of business. He notes branches and branch personnel are no less critical than before, but their role has changed from performing transactions to re-focusing on sales and advising customers on how to bank.

“In spite of the powerful digital technology, today the bulk of banking consumers still want to talk to someone when opening a new account and even for most product categories.

“Additionally, consumers often need help with the new technology, even just to get going and start using it.

“In most cases, branches can be much smaller, but with more room for digital zones and self-service devices such as ATMs and ADTs (deposit-taking machines). This journey is not unique to banking – virtually every sales or service business is or will be going through some elements of digital transformation.”

Nieuwoudt also says that today only a very small percentage of credit decisions are made by people – rather statistical models are used to make fully automated decisions instantly at low cost and with accuracy not achievable by a person.

“This means your risk profile and behaviour determines your loan size and pricing. Importantly, technology has helped reduce fraud loss rates for card and digital transactions,” concludes Nieuwoudt.

Source: IT Web

South Africa’s recession means households had less and less to spend, but the number one supermarket group in the country, Shoprite, is adopting an unlikely strategy: targeting upmarket shoppers.

Lower-income families who formed Shoprite’s core customer base were cutting back on spending, but the wealthy remained undented by the economic downturn.

In a bid to retain its leading industry position, the discount retailer’s new boss was driving business hard into the higher-margin niche dominated by rival Woolworths.

The stage was set for a turf war to win the hearts, minds and wallets of South Africa’s richest two million households — and ultimately, pre-eminence in the supermarket sector.

Shoprite CEO Pieter Engelbrecht told Reuters that growth lied in affluent areas and customers.

“A lot of those (wealthier) customers, two million of them, actually frequent our stores already, but not exclusively,” he said in an interview.

“Our job is to get a better share of their wallets when they are in our stores and then impress them so that they come back again.”

Shoprite was doubling its offering of the kind of high-end convenience foods that Woolworths built its reputation on – from gourmet lamb shanks and oxtail stew to teriyaki-and-ginger basted pork ribs.

Its range would reach around 500 products by the end of this year, Engelbrecht said.

These products typically cost about R200 for a meal for four — 10 times the minimum wage of R20 an hour as set by new labour laws making their way through Parliament.

As part of the drive to expand its range, Engelbrecht said Shoprite had upgraded its food technology and development facilities, and gone on a hiring spree for food developers and technologists.

The company planned to open 23 new outlets of its higher-end Checkers chain of stores, mostly in wealthy suburbs such as Waterfall City north of Johannesburg.

New Checkers stores and established ones that had been refurbished resembled Woolworths outlets with sparse lighting and wood-panelled sections boasting extensive wine and gourmet coffee selections, as well as counters selling quality selections of cheese and meat.

‘I love Woolies’

But how will Woolworths defend a market that delivered handsome profits for the company?

When asked about Shoprite’s push into upmarket convenience food, Woolworths said that it had an “incredibly valuable emotional connection” with its customers.

“Retail is a dynamic environment and the competition in the grocery and food market category means that we will always keep a watching brief on our competitors’ activities,” it added.

“We conduct weekly basket checks against the prices of competitors to ensure that our prices are comparable.”

It was a tall order for Shoprite to break Woolworths’ stranglehold.

“They (Woolworths) have been good at introducing new products and other innovations in line with consumer trends and feedback,” said Old Mutual Invest food retail analyst Kaya Nodada.

If Shoprite was to prevail, it would have to win over shoppers like JF Fourie.

“I love Woolies. The microwave meals are a bit overpriced, but they are tasty,” the 28-year-old who works in marketing said in the Woolworths branch in eastern Pretoria as she added shimeji mushrooms to the baby brinjals in her basket.

Fourie – a big fan of Gordon Ramsay – said she would need some convincing about the quality of Shoprite’s products, but would give it a go because Checkers adverts feature the British celebrity chef.

“I like the chef and he hates airplane food,” she adds.

“He’s fussy and I am too.”

 

http://www.supermarket.co.za

Customers from hell – part 3

Nobody likes dealing with miserable people, and in parts 1 and 2 of this series we looked at how important issues of self-image and self-esteem created unhappiness and obnoxious behaviour. I also discussed that there are serious consequences that both you and the unfortunate other party have to deal with when we are unable to resolve problems and complaints effectively. In this final article I want to share some more practical ideas for dealing with these.

In any “customer from hell” situation, we need to assume that you have made all efforts to deal reasonably with the unhappiness. An easy way to remember what to do is summarised in the acronym LESTER.

• Listen carefully to what the unhappy customer is complaining about
• Empathise with them
• Say sorry and apologise
• Thank them for bringing it to your attention, and for having the courage to complain rather than just bad-mouthing your business, defecting to a rival, or worse. And then, when they are calm
• Explore options and explain what you can do, and finally
• Rectify the problem with a win:win solution, (following up to make sure it was truly resolved.)

But we are not dealing with normal, unhappy customers and their complaints and problems in this article. We are discussing the emotional, irrational, illogical and unreasonable customers from hell that don’t respond to all of your efforts to help them. You must be able to protect yourself from such individuals, because of the awful effect that they have on you. That one person that you have to deal with makes you forget the other 99% of nice people that you deal with on a day-to-day basis. The terrible memories of this encounter will stay vividly in your mind for a very long time. It makes work very unpleasant, and is demoralising and demotivating for everyone involved. Most importantly, it starts eating away at your own confidence, esteem and self-worth.

There are a few choices that you have in dealing with these customers…

• Laugh it off: Not always easy, but remember it’s mostly their problem, not yours. Of course, they will do their best to get you caught up in their problem – and their dramas.

• Just accept their behaviour, and allow the abuse to continue. It may be that this customer from hell is too important to your business, or has too much power for you to deal with. I don’t like this option, however, because if you allow the abuse to continue, it will continue, and maybe get even worse. More importantly what about the effect that this has on you? If you have no choice, protect yourself from these individuals by talking to somebody, or by taking out your frustrations somehow. Remember that ships don’t sink because of the water around them… They sink because of the water that gets in them. Are you going to allow this to happen in your life, and allow things to weigh you down? Do anything to let it go. Alternatively, just laugh it off.

• Confront with equal aggression: also not a good choice most of the time, because they will not like it, and the resulting consequences may be even worse. Also, don’t forget that passive aggression where you come up with creative ways of taking revenge on them or putting them down, is just as bad as real aggression.

• Confront assertively, by interrupting them in a firm voice to say something like this: “Mr. Smith, I want to help you, but I can’t do that while you are aggressive/abusive/shouting at me. Will you allow me to do so?” This is particularly important when customers become abusive and threaten you, bully you, insult you or even get physically violent. You need to be able to “draw a line in the sand” so to speak, and to let them know that their behaviour is not acceptable.

• Put the ball in their court. You may want to try this out: tell them that you have now come to the point where you have exhausted all of your options. You have tried everything in your power to help them, and they have not responded. “What do you want me to do?” There are three possible answers to this question. First, they may tell you what they want, and it’s impossible for you to do that, so you are going to have to say “No.” Second, they may tell you what they want, and you are able to respond to that, in which case do it and move on. But there is also a third possibility: they don’t respond, because they can’t think of anything else that you can do. At this stage, they may come to the realization that you have done your best, but don’t expect them to readily admit that. But at least they may become more reasonable.

• Cut the anchor: let them go. This is a tricky one, and we suggest that you check it out with your manager first. But if the abuse is becoming too much for you to deal with, you could say something like: “Mr. Jones, I am uncomfortable with all of the swearing and insults that you are shouting at me. With the greatest respect to you, I am now going to walk away, (or put the telephone down. Goodbye” And then walk away or put the telephone down softly. (In fact, pass them onto your competitors!) Don’t wrestle with pigs. It will get you all muddy and the pigs will love it.
• Just keep trying to sort it out, whatever it takes. If you do manage to turn them around, and you keep trying everything you can to turn them around, you may find a customer for life. What often helps is if you in fact tell them that you will not give up on them, ever.

Some final thoughts

• It’s obvious that you need a really great sense of humour to be able to deal with these abusive customers, and, as one author put it, “A thick skin is a gift from God.”

• David may have fought Goliath – but he didn’t choose to wrestle him. Choose your battles carefully

• Don’t take things personally. Remember that what people say is more a reflection of them, their reality, not a reflection of you.

• Be kind to unkind people – they need it the most

I’d like to end off with a line from one of my favourite lines from the poem “If,” written by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’, and blaming it on you…
Then yours is the earth and everything that’s on it.

By Aki Kalliatakis, managing partner of Leadership Launchpad

  • 1
  • 2

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top