Khizar Zafar / Learning & Development Specialist at Coca-Cola Icecek - Pakistan

Consider a situation when you see two jugs and few empty glasses. One jug is full of hot water and one is filled with cold water. Now you have to fill the hot water jug with cold water, what would you do? If you start pouring cold water into hot water jug, the hot water in the other jug will only spill out right? So what should you do? You will empty the hot water jug and fill the empty glasses and then you can easily fill the cold water into the other jug.

This is what happens when you face a customer who is anxiously waiting for an interaction with you. So here it is you go to him and he is picturing your previous commitment, your last meeting, your last promise, and your previous discussion points. He is the hot water jug. You don’t have to speak at that moment. Because he is all set, all prepared and ready to take over your thoughts and ideas and supersede you with every single sentence. He might have a bad history with the company, with the front line sales staff, with your line manager or he might have a problem with your delivery mechanism, your products delivery frequency or your late response to him and so on. There can be so many reasons if a customer is unhappy. Now you have to act like the Cold Water jug. You have to give him enough time and space to fill the empty glasses with his anger. You need to give him enough space and become a pleased listener. At that time when you enter his outlet or office, he does not have anything else in his mind except to express his reservation, fear and hopeless feeling with you. Now these are the points:

Comfort zone: You need to bring him into a comfort zone where he gets the idea that you will not be interrupting him during his speech and not assuming his point of view.

Judgmental: You have to be very clear about it. You cannot give him a feeling or express through your body language that you are judging his concern quickly and start uttering few closed ended sentences. That is the worst you would be doing with this conversation. Remember, don’t ever jump to conclusion.

Keeping away: To bring ownership or to express through your body language that you are listening carefully, you can not  twist the conversation. Don’t give him the impression of keeping away everything and putting the pressure or responsibility on someone else.

Body language: Body language plays a very vital role when you are listening to an angry opponent. Your priority should be to change his current place or ambiance and take him out of the negativity that he is surrounded with at the moment. It’s better if you can easily sit and talk not just standing and trying to find a place where you can rest your legs or relax your body by keeping your hand on the wall or on the table, if you are sitting it will create an ideal situation.

Pauses: Not initially but you can use small pauses by asking open ended questions regarding the matter after 5 or 10 minutes when his threshold level is coming down. Now that he has lost the  limit of his anger, you can inquire him few questions that can lead you to the solution. Because he is looking at one side of the picture and does not have any idea about your situation or working boundaries.

Stay involved: Eventually you need to be calm and involved in his matter of concern. Do not look here and there and even if you notice anyone familiar or your colleague/peer, never stop the conversation and start meeting that person.

Connectivity: You also have to stay away from the connection tools with you. Do not attend a call or excuse the conversation to grab a cigarette or a drink. Your bonding at this moment is really important with the audience.

Solution driven: In the end, you have to come up with a solution by giving a time line by proposing scenarios and options that can hit the top priority of the customer.

In order to become a good listener and handle an unhappy customer, you need to let the hot water out of the jug and pour the cold water in that. If you push it and try to fill the cold water in the hot water jug… It will only spill out and you will be left with no cold water.

2 responses

  1. Very Well Said!
    Looking forward for more fruitful knowledge thank you!

  2. Avatar khizar on 07/08/2015 at 23:27 said:

    Thank you for liking it 🙂

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