Stop Arguing With Me!

I was asked yesterday by a follower if I was able to provide some advice around managing customers who continued to argue their point and did not accept what they were being told by the service representative.  Hmmm, good luck with them.

There are some people who just like to argue regardless of what you tell them, then there are others who see themselves as always being right.  These dogmatic people have a higher degree of narcissism than most of us.  Their sense of self-importance and need to focus on themselves is at the extreme end of the communication continuum and are very difficult to appease.

There are several ways to manage this type of person.  The best way that I have found is to make it all about them, more than you would with other people.  Use sentences such as "You make a good point", "I can see where you are coming from", or “This would frustrate you". 

The difficulty arises when you can't actually help them.  For example, the company policy disallows you from doing what the customer has asked of you.  Honesty is the best policy but with an explanation as to why.  I call it 'the reason for the reason'. 

Policies are developed for two reasons; to protect the company and to protect the customer, more so the former reason in most situations.  Often we will say, "I'm sorry but I can't do what you are asking because it is our company policy".  You know what the customer hears when we say this - "We have rules for situations like this and I can't change them". 

Try explaining to the customer why the policies are in place, to protect them.  Say "Lance, I apologise that I cannot help do any more for you.  We value our customers and have policies which are designed to protect everyone". Try variations of this as it has to be said in your own words otherwise it sounds disingenuous. For example “Our policies have been developed over years of business Lance to protect everyone, I apologise that there is little I can do to change this”.   

Breaking down this sentence - Use the customer’s name early in the sentence to personalise the conversation, use the word 'apologise' as it is more formal than the word sorry and we say sorry far too often so it also becomes disingenuous. Then explain why the policies are in place, to protect everyone them included.

Finish off the conversation by giving the customer something that they can take away, it need not be tangible although this would be more helpful. It could be as simple as “What I am going to do is to mention your situation to my supervisor as you raise a valid point”. Be honest remember, if you lie you will lose credibility and a customer. Always do what you say you are going to and don’t over-promise. Under-promise and over-deliver.

Bottom line, sometimes people just have to have a reality check.