People are weird — in the best way possible. But that also means some tricky customer questions can pop up for your business. So, how do you respond when a customer throws you a curveball during a conversation?

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when responding to curious questions and comments.

Have a Little Patience

Customers come to your business for a particular product or service. Sometimes they ask you a question you feel they should know the answer to, or come after you with an attitude when reality didn’t meet their expectations. In either circumstance, or every one in-between, patience is truly a virtue.

Keeping your composure can help avoid unnecessary confrontation or the chance of you sounding condescending. Actively listening to the questions or comments of your customers, without jumping to conclusions, will allow you to address any issues or alleviate their confusion.

This is particularly important if the project you’re working on is a big-ticket item. While customers do plan on spending more on home and wellness-related costs this year, paying these expensive bills can make them a little more on edge than usual.

You should remember this when checking your reviews, too. When a customer leaves you a single star, rather than furiously defending yourself in the comments or simply deleting the post — don’t allow yourself to get angry or upset. Take a deep breath, work to understand the problem and offer a solution.

Be Honest, Yet Tactful

Don’t sugarcoat your offerings for your customers. By always being honest you can manage customers’ expectations and ensure they are firmly rooted in the realm of what’s possible. If issues do arise, communicate that and let them know what delays or changes they can expect.

But it goes beyond simply being honest. Be tactful, too. When a customer is complaining because of a long lead time or your inability to reschedule an appointment, don’t let your frustration get the best of you. Be sensitive to their situation and do your best to provide a solution that works for both of you.

Remember, sometimes it’s okay to say no to customers if their request is unreasonable, outside your scope or they don’t show you the respect you deserve.

Always Provide Accurate Information

As a customer myself, nothing frustrates me more than feeling like I’ve been misled. I’m sure you know the feeling. That’s why it’s critical to always provide accurate information.

Plus, if you have a team, ensure everyone knows the details of each of your products, services or delivery times. If that’s not possible, make certain they know how to find the information and don’t shoo customers away with generalities to get them off the phone.

As a small business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your customers are being provided the most accurate information, whether it comes from your staff or your online listings.

Speaking of online listings …

Be Proactive

Don’t wait for a confused customer to cuss you out because they couldn’t find your business hours online. Having a solid online presence and making sure your website is up to date with all of the necessary information a new client might need can help prevent some of these awkward conversations from happening in the first place.

In addition, it’s important to ensure your online listings are all up to date and consistent across sites.

Another way to proactively avoid potential confrontations is by setting automated appointment reminders.

Have you ever shown up to a client’s house for a scheduled appointment only to have them not be there? Maybe they wrote down the wrong date. Don’t let a clerical error prevent you from getting your job done. By sending automated appointment confirmations and reminders you’re taking the guesswork out of the equation.

Don’t Talk Shop

You’re the expert in your field, your customer is not. That’s why they called you. So if you’re an accountant or a contractor, please stick to common terms your customers know.

I promise your customer doesn’t know what you mean when you say, “We’re going to cut a birdsmouth on the rafter for the gable.” (Honestly, I don’t know what that means – but my contractor brother says it’s a thing.)

Instead, use terminology that gets your point across but customers won’t need to Google after you leave. This way you’re effectively communicating the work that needs to be done and your customer will know what to expect.

Bonus Tip: Manage it Efficiently

While many customer conversations will come in over the phone or in person, a lot will be via digital means. From text messages and emails to comments on social media posts, it can be hard to keep track. And one of the worst ways to respond is silence.

With Thryv, managing all those incoming messages becomes a little easier.

For example, if a customer leaves a comment on Facebook, you can respond directly from Thryv’s social tab. Or users can integrate Facebook Messenger into their Thryv Inbox, keeping all messages organized in one place.

I mean really, no one has time to chase customers from platform to platform to answer their questions.

Communicating with your customers in a professional manner is simply a good look for you and your business. For examples of how to respond to some outlandish questions, check out our customer communication cheat sheet.

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