If you have spent more than 30 minutes in the forklift industry, you have met or heard about an unhappy customer somewhere. Reasons for complaints can vary from the legitimate to the ridiculous! Unfortunately, the technician is on the front line and usually bears the brunt of customer displeasure. So, what to do?
First of all, make sure it isn’t your fault. True professionals are going to own their mistakes and deal with them. However, a note of caution: often customers will try to pin a problem on you. Just remember that you didn’t BUILD it, BUY it, or Break it. For example, if I carelessly damage something, its my problem, but if it takes “too long” to diagnose, it is likely not your issue.
Second, try to see it from the customer’s point of view. This often will enable you to avoid the conflicts in the first place. Understanding what is giving them grief may allow you to steer clear of the sore spots. This is not always possible, but worth exploring.
Third, DO NOT let them goad you! If it isn’t your fault and you can’t avoid the issue, deal with it professionally. Be calm, clear, and honest. Don’t make hasty promises or react in a way that will jeapordize the long term goals. Let me give a quick story on this point. I once had a manager at a past employer who was very reactive, domineering, and occasionally abrasive. In fact, some tried to charge this person with verbal abuse. Many people quit after a short stint, while others cowered and tried to stay under the radar. However, I found that when I calmly stood my ground and explained how my actions were the best in the situation, and were in the company interest, this individual would settle down and back off. The few who tried to react with anger or disrespect found themselves on the curb. Now, I realize the dynamics were not exactly the same, but remember the customer is essentially your boss when it comes to their piece of equipment. CALM, CLEAR, HONEST.
Lastly, if the situation cannot be resolved, don’t let the rest of your customers or mindset be affected. You have enough problems to solve, without giving them free real estate in your mind. When you’ve done your best, advise your management of the situation, then walk away from the frustration.
How have YOU dealt with these type of customers? Leave your comments!
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