No industry is immune to demanding or challenging clients. People’s’ behavior can change drastically based on problematic circumstances in life and stressful emotions that come with buying.
It’s true that insurance customers can be very emotional. This isn’t surprising considering purchases like life insurance, annuities, and Medicare supplements are huge decisions.
What is the best way to deal with difficult customers as an agent? Here are some strategies to help.
1. Be Patient
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and try to understand their situations. Ask questions to allow them to get frustrations out in the open. Acknowledge their emotions, even if they seem irrational from your perspective. Maintain your professionalism even in the face of criticism. Patience is a virtue! Keep in mind that your goal is to maintain a long-term trusting relationship with your client. Relationships take work and sometimes bumps in the road.
2. Don’t Get Defensive
It’s completely natural to want to defend yourself against an unreasonable or angry person. While you don’t need to sustain excessively rash behavior, tread carefully when it comes to your responses. Resist the urge to place blame or respond with short answers. Acknowledge the reasons your customer or prospect may be upset. Getting defensive at any point in the conversation will most likely just escalate the issue.
No matter what tone the customer has with you, allow him/her to express emotions and vent about existing dissatisfactions. Don’t interrupt or make excuses for why something did or didn’t happen. Don’t rehearse a response in your head or judge your customer prematurely. Sometimes all clients need is someone to vent to. Listen with the intent to help.
4. Use a Calm Tone
You would be surprised how effective a calm and empathetic tone can be at taking things down a notch. Maintain a pleasant composure and never raise your voice or sound passive-aggressive, even when the other person is doing so. Your sympathy may be just what your customer needs to feel heard.
Never forget to include an apology. Whether the client is angry over a misunderstanding, lack of follow-through, or price, apologize for whatever it may be. Ask how you can make the situation better and do your best to resolve the conflict. Go above and beyond simply solving the issue. Clients and prospects will take notice of exceptional customer service.
After dealing with the customer directly, always evaluate how to improve or prevent the same dispute from happening again. Even if the issue is specific to one customer only, work to improve and set the expectation for next time around. There is always room for professional development.
7. Move On
Working with upset customers can be a challenge. Experiencing harsh criticism for something that may or may not have been your fault can be exhausting and demoralizing. It’s best to resolve the issue and then move on from it. Even if a resolution is not found despite your fervent efforts, allow the situation to be put in the past. Don’t let unpleasant feelings linger and affect your attitude and work.
There is, unfortunately, no absolute way for an agency to avoid difficult customers completely. Even with experienced staff and well-defined processes, errors and hiccups are inevitable. We recommend implementing steps like this with your employees to use when problematic situations arise.
Do you have any unique strategies for handling difficult customers? Is there a specific time you pulled out all the stops and nothing worked? We would love to know!