Customer Experience

3 Negotiation Tactics when Dealing with Tricky Customers

You don’t have to put your battle armor on to have an effective conversation with a customer.

Source: peepo / E+ / Getty

When dealing with a less-than-pleased customer, it’s easy to fall into defensiveness mode. On the other hand, it’s also easy to offer him or her everything he or she has ever wanted just so you can get off the phone call and move on. But by implementing a few simple negotiation tactics, you may be able to find a win-win situation that works for both of you and salvages a relationship. You want to find a way to give the customer what he or she wants without going overboard and giving away an arm and a leg.

Here are three negotiation tactics to try when dealing with tricky customers.

  1. Ask exactly what they want: Cut to the chase, and ask what they’re looking for. It may be less than you think! Just because customers are upset with a product doesn’t mean they want a full refund. Maybe they want a discount, a new product, or something else to appease their frustration. But instead of letting them lash out for 10 minutes, try and get to the point: What exactly is it they’re hoping you will do? By figuring out exactly what they want, you have somewhere to start. You may not be able to give it to them, but you have a clear vision of what a “win” looks like for them. You need that starting point before you can engage in real conversation.
  2. Know your “bottom line”: Know exactly how far you’re allowed to go when talking with a customer. If you know there’s absolutely no way you can give a full refund but that you’re able to give 75% back, that’s incredibly important information. You know where the negotiation will have to end, at least before you pass things off to a manager. It’s important to understand where your ending point is so that you have a firm grasp of what you have to offer.
  3. Stress how important they are to you: You want customers to understand that although it feels like it’s you vs. them, you’re actually on their side. Stressing how important this conversation is and how vital they are as customers may get you further than you think. It’s hard to be mad at someone who’s expressing that he or she wants to walk away from the conversation feeling heard, appreciated, and satisfied. It will diffuse tension, remind him or her you’re a human being, and hopefully make it easier to come to a compromise.