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How to resolve conflict between employee and customer

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Many companies can have a difficult time handling conflict with customers. It is particularly difficult when an employee and customer conflict arises. Handling conflict with customers is one of the most necessary business skills an employee must have. Training your employees to transform customer conflict into customer satisfaction is hard, but worth it! Most employees hope they never have to deal with customer conflicts, but it is inevitable that you will have an irate customer one day.

Your company must have a training program in place to handle customer conflicts effectively. Most companies follow three basic strategies that can effectively diffuse a potentially disastrous situation. When your employees are hired, they typically go through a routine program of training, this customer conflict management needs to be addressed as well.

Avoidance

If there is a heated discussion between the employee and customer, it is best for your employee to back off and wait until the customer calms down. However, ignoring the issue won't make it go away.

Diffusion
Diffusion is a delaying strategy that distracts the customer with minor details to distract them from the real issue. Basically your employee handles the conflict with the customer by delaying the issue to a later date. Being sympathetic to the customer shows that you care and are trying to help resolve the situation. Write down the facts and assure them you will pass this on to your superiors to contact them when they have time. This too, is a temporary solution to a problem that will eventually need to be addressed.

Confrontation
This is typically the best and worst method to use for employee and customer conflicts. The employee is direct with the customer by being firm and assertive. Confrontation is so successful because it deals with the issue head on. Negotiation with a customer is a great way to solve the conflict at hand. Negotiation with a customer balances your company's needs and the needs of the customer.

The ability your employees have in handling conflict with customers ultimately plays out as the most important business tool. If your employee and customer conflict with certain things, chances are your customer will leave with a bad taste in their mouth and spread their negative message about your company to many potential new customers. Your employees need to recognize that they are the front line of customer contact and the basis of the success of the company is the fact that they can either leave customers with high satisfaction or leave them with the worst experience. Having your employees become conflict managers is a great way to show your customers you care about their needs and wants. Plus, it leaves you with happy employees since they won't have to deal with upset customers.

Even if you have the best customer conflict process in place, there is still a good possibility your employees will not properly carry it out. Making sure your employees try their best to resolve conflicts with customers will help your company's finances and reputation in the end. Re-gaining the confidence of your customers is not an easy process.

Transferring employees who have more than one conflict with customers that resulted in large financial loss for your company is also a good solution. Sometimes larger action is required by management and that employee must be let go. Make sure you have written documentation of the incidence that occurred so you don't see yourself facing a potential lawsuit for wrongful termination.

In the end, the goal of your company is to keep your customers and your employees happy and satisfied. Giving thought to implementing proper training procedures is beneficial to both the company and the customer.

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Posted by DF
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