Managing Customer’s Stress

“When a customer has unmet expectations, know that it’s empathy (more than sympathy) that will help to remedy and bring resolution to the perceived shortcoming.” – Steve Dorfman

In business and in personal lives, we all go through several emotions and encounter the emotions of others as well. In the realm of customer service, companies may not be able to control how customers react, but they can definitely take steps towards managing customer’s stress – and for sure there are several opportunities to do so. We know that customer buying decisions, assessments of a company and the quality of its products, evaluation of value, and other such aspects are all influenced primarily by emotions and feelings. Despite this being a fact, companies are still unable to anticipate and or mitigate the negative emotions in customers, which serve as a trigger feel poorly about a company. Stress is one of the top such emotions.

When buying, people are already high on emotions, and stronger feelings are triggered when they deal with customer service personnel who may seemingly not live up to their expectations. Given that these strong negative emotions can make customers behave in apparently unreasonable ways, customer service personnel too become tense and stressed. With both sides experiencing such negativity, managing customer’s stress becomes even tougher for the service personnel. What are some of the things that may inevitably happen, which could lead to high intensity negative feelings on the part of customers? The lack of knowledge and familiarity with what they can expect, leads to uncertainty, which in turn elicits feelings of annoyance and stress. Another reason is usually when customers realize that they have no control over the kind of service and performance of the service staff, making the whole issue even more complex than it was. This added complexity adds to the stress levels of customers. There are several other reasons leading to negative feelings in customers, and with many such situations, managing customer’s stress becomes a lot harder for the service staff.

It is imperative for companies and their representatives to be adept at managing customer’s stress. When making buying decisions, customers tend to become stressed because of the complexity involved, and because they fear making the wrong buying decisions. Becoming stressed further constricts their ability to think logically and creatively, which makes the process of buying even tougher. The fact of human nature is that when faced with such negative feelings, we tend to withdraw and withhold the decision making process. Customers therefore, tend to push back and or stall the buying decision, which is a loss of money for companies.

It is the duty of companies, and is beneficial to them as well, to ensure that they get good at managing customer’s stress effectively. In fact, companies should be able to identify emotional triggers, respond proactively to these emotions, assure customers that they are in control, and ensure that their customer service representatives are equipped to deal with customers empathetically, swiftly, and with utmost care. Companies that can positively influence customer expectations, and enhance positive perceptions of value and quality for customers, would need to worry a lot less about customer stress. Irrespective of the business a company has, or the kind of customers it deals with, managing customer’s stress is an inevitable part of everyday operations. The first step to managing customer’s stress is recognizing and understanding signs of this stress.

It would be helpful for a company identify and notice when customers may be beginning to feel stressed. This would ensure your company saves itself from several full-blown issues that could disrupt business, and damage reputation. When customers begin to talk louder, interrupt a conversation, snap at suggestions, and other such signs, you can be certain that they are beginning to become angry due to some factors, which may be stressing them out, and it would be necessary to put interventions in place for managing customer’s stress. Customers showing signs of anxiety, is another indicator of stress, and this could soon snowball into a larger issue if the company representatives do not calm the customer. Some customers display their stress by constantly calling or checking on things – where is my product, is my design complete, how much more time before the website can go live – all indications that a company must press into action for managing customer’s stress, by giving them accurate information and timelines. Managing customer’s stress becomes the hardest when customers breakdown and begin to cry. This may not have any direct connection with the company, but is still a sign of stress, which the company would need to manage.

It is a company’s responsibility to let customers know that they took the right decision by doing business and that the company is dedicated to making their lives easier and better. Show customers, often, that their current situation could be alleviated only through the offerings of the company, and that there is no other player in the market who would be able to provide them with the kind of service and offerings that they require and need. While showing customers that their current state can become better through the association, a company must also create a mental picture for customers, showing them that the company would be the best option to cater to their future needs as well. The company must encourage customers to imagine what they would like their business and personal lives to shape up in the future, and then provide clarity on how the company can help them get there.

A great way of managing customer’s stress is by showing them that they have made a safe and accurate decision by associating with your company. As humans, we tend to imagine the worst, which is an accelerated trigger for stress. In business too, customers tend to have fears and worries, which rarely come true, but in managing customer’s stress, it is important for the company to let them know that it understands all their fears, and is there to alleviate all of them. Customers deal with multiple issues daily and at any given point of time, but still make the effort to find a company who they believe can help. It becomes the responsibility of the company to help the customer see the decision was accurate, since the company would stand by them, and prove to be the best choice the customer ever made.

There are some fine points, and details that companies often overlook when making attempts at managing customer’s stress. It is important for a company to show customers that it is always listening, through its representatives. The customer service staff must be adept at reflecting the feelings of customers, and display unfeigned interest and empathy. This shows customers that the company truly gets how they are feeling, and understands the situation they may be stressing about, putting them at ease. Customers tend to trust companies that make things simple for them. It is critical to remember that as a company you may have encountered similar customer problems repeatedly. However, for a customer their problem is massive and unique, else, they would not take the trouble to talk about it. Ensure that your company’s representatives understand the importance of listening actively, and speak to customers in a way that conveys care, and a strong desire to rid them of their problem.

This may seem diametrically opposite to whatever we have said above, but the fact is that after making every attempt at managing customer’s stress, there would always be some feelings that would be out of your company’s control. Remain focused on helping customers reach where they want to be, and you can be sure they would stay with your company for a long time.

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