What this post is about
- Learn how to take personality into account
- Consider removing barriers to agreement
- Do your part to assist customers' expression
- Find more effective starting points
Companies invest a lot of resources in making sure communications with customers are open and clear. However, anyone who has ever worked in customer service knows that sometimes trying to change someone’s opinion, or convince them that you are trying to help, can feel like an impossible challenge. Below, we'll discuss some techniques that will help you change the mind of even the most difficult clients.
All too often, customer service involves a blanket approach, wherein all customers are treated as if they'll act the same. Instead –– and particularly given how much data you're likely able to gather on customers today –– try to consider different personalities and tendencies. Thomas Erikson’s “Surrounded By Idiots” teaches that people's personalities can generally be divided into four types: dominance, inspiration, stability, and steadiness. Each of these has different ways of thinking and behaving, which you can take into account in order to improve your outreach.
A client with a stable personality type may show signs of stubbornness, for instance, but you can appeal to the same customer's likely drive to be pleasant and reliable by offering rewards for their loyalty. In the same way, the customer with a compliance personality type can be a bit narrow-minded, but will also tend to be very diligent –– such that he or she will appreciate timely, appropriate contact. Now, you won't always have an exact road map identifying personality types and how to reach them. But these examples still speak to how you can strive to treat customers as individuals and approach them tactfully.
Most of us think about changing customers' minds as a challenge –– a roadblock that has to be dealt with. But what if instead of asking how to change someone's behavior, we asked ourselves what’s preventing them from making what we would deem to be the right choice?
Jonah Berger’s “The Catalyst” suggests that changing someone's mind is less about pushing someone in the right direction, and more about removing the barriers preventing them from choosing that path. The book also provides practical examples from particularly difficult situations, citing how marketers are able to make a product trend, but also how hostage negotiators persuade people to come out with their hands up. Whether or not you dig into all of its lessons personally, that core concept of seeking to remove barriers rather than provide direction can make customer service a whole lot simpler.
Most people would say that trying to argue with a customer is a counter-productive approach. We are not suggesting that you do that. Rather, we argue that by listening to what they have to say and giving them the necessary tools to express themselves, you might get a bit closer to providing a solution.
According to a study published at Frontiers in Psychology, something as simple as paraphrasing what someone is saying is enough to show them that we are paying attention. As a result, they feel better and lower their defenses. Other techniques you can apply from the field of counseling include using phrases that encourage them to give more information (like "tell me more") and summarizing their arguments in response.
When you deal with customers, you might get the feeling that there's nothing we can do to satisfy them. Sometimes this is exactly the case! But rather than give up, we suggest considering if there was something that could have been done early on to change things.
In order to build a good relationship with customers, you can't rely on pure trial and error. As mentioned previously here at Zammad, a proactive approach is more effective. Actions like gathering information about preferences, and preparing a detailed list of FAQs can go a long way towards keeping your customers happy. Essentially, proactive support and follow-ups keep you from even getting to a point at which you need to change minds.
Building a strong relationship with a customer is a process, but a worthwhile one. We hope these strategies will help you to manage it all the more efficiently and see your business reap the rewards.
Being able to change customers' minds is a crucial aspect of customer relations. However, it is also a more complex process than it is often treated as. These points illustrate how different approaches can help you to avoid arguments and effectively reach customers who need persuading.