In a recent training for key customer service practitioners, I was confronted with some seemingly difficult questions bothering on the fact that some customers can be overbearing, excessively implacable and that no matter what you do they are just too difficult to please.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS

A Verbally abusive customer.

A waitress in a prestigious hotel said she was called all sort of unprintable names. In her word The customer called me stupid, foolish and a liar, even when it was obviously his fault

A physically abusive customer

An airline attendant said he was slapped by a passenger but acted professionally without allowing the incident to bring out the other side of him. In his words, It was such a terrible experience but I had to manage it in a mature way

Time abusive Customer

A business developer complained of having had to wait for a pre- scheduled meeting for three hours later than the appointed time. In his word, the bad aspect was that there was no single word of apology after I finally met with the official. It what that bad

PRELUDE TO THE DISCUSSION: THE CUSTOMER AS KING

This write up was premised on the fact of my insistent that the customer is king. And I went further to likened the customer to the traditional Monarch. The king in ancient times was seen in some culture as the representative of the gods on earth and his words were laws or divinely inspired. Societies attribute uncommon intelligence and knowledge to the king. The notion of the customer as king was taken from this understanding of an all knowing and all powerful person.

REASONS WHY THE CUSTOMER IS KING

The customer has power Purchasing and financial Power

He or she determines the fate of organizations- Organization without customer will die naturally

The customer is at liberty to decide where to spend her money- buy or not to buy is a decision that rests solely with the customer and not the organization?

The customer has expectations that must be met by service providers or else they move elsewhere

I went further to stressed that because businesses exist for the customer hence we need to accord him due respect. As expected some of the students shared this opinion but some disagreed and felt that some customers need to understand why they should accord the server some level of respect.

WHAT THIS ARTICLE INTEND TO ACHIEVE

1) To speak to the customers particularly those that would want to intentionally or unknowingly humiliate a service attendant. As a customer, you must understand clearly that you are dealing with human beings no matter his or her estate. You must come to term with the fact that these individuals have feelings and emotions, they feel happy and motivated when they are treated properly and they could also feel pained and emotionally depressed when treated sub-humanly. We must come to the realization that they can react positively as well as negatively. All human must be treated well to bring out the best in them. And, lastly, you must understand that the attendant has a right that is protected by the law.

2) I speak to the customer service providers to understand that people behave differently, personalities and traits differ and as such it should be expected that some customer will behave pleasantly while others will behave below par but still they are needed for the survival of the enterprise and must be handled professionally. You must also understand that knowledge of personality types and emotional intelligence will enable you to know the appropriate responses to each customer.

WHY DO DIFFERENT CUSTOMER BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY

Wikipedia defines behavior as the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with themselves or their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the (inanimate) physical environment.

From the above, we can define behavior as an action or reaction of an organism, or person to an object or person provoked by internal and external stimuli. It then implies that peoples behaviors are sometimes intentionally or inadvertently instigated. By implication, it means that human behavior is influenced by certain hormones, chemical reaction and physiological factors that necessitated why people behave differently.

YOUR ROLE WHEN RELATING WITH DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS

You are trained to manage them

People are different and they should be managed differently

Ideally, customer should appreciate good and empathetic service

When you handled the overbearing customer professionally at their moment of soberness they tend to appreciate good service

You should be protected by your organization and the law against abusive and antisocial behavior by some customer.

PERSONALITY AND BEHAVIOUR

Research findings have proven that people can be classified into different personality types with their associated traits, temperament, and behavioral tendencies. To a very large extent, individual personality determines their approaches to issues including how they relate to others.

Personality was defined by Feist and Feist as a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both consistency and individuality to a persons behavior This means that customer behavior is a fallout of their personality or individuality, hence, personality accounts for individual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

IMPLICATIONS OF PERSONALITY ON CUSTOMER BEHAVIOUR

Personality is both physiological and psychological in nature. It is environmentally as well as biologically influenced.

It is consistent. It is a regular and recognized pattern of behavior

It is behavioral. It impacts how we behave and relates with people given certain conditions

It is multifaceted in its manifestation. We think, behave, feel, react and relates differently to different situations and circumstances.

Because specific traits are traceable to personality this will account for the reasons why some people are open, someconscientious, some extroverted, others agreeable and while some persons are neuroticisms.

So when a customer behaves below expectation know that you are seeing their true personality traits. Often times these cannot be concealed hence you need the knowledge to deal and resolve their needs or handle their behavioral tendencies more intelligently.

For example, the phlegmatic customer who behaves inappropriately would need a sympathetic, warm and caring service attitude to neutralize such behavioral tendency. On the other hand, a sanguine that is a highly motivated and adventurous would need a good listener who shares his sentiment and interest for things that appeal to his pleasure.

STRATEGY FOR HANDLING DIFFERENT PERSONALITY TYPES

KNOWLEDGE: Know yourself and know your customer

UNDERSTAND THE OTHER PERSON: Be interested in the customer; be passionate about meeting his or her need in a professional manner.

PASSION: Be passionate about what you do, enjoy your work, seek to feel good at all times and the customer will appreciate your effort and treat you right.

NOTE THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS YOU CANNOT CHANGE IN A CUSTOMER BECAUSE THEY ARE INNATE BUT YOU CAN TAKE CHARGE HOW YOU FEEL AND TAKE GOOD CONTROL OF YOUR EMOTION. Go on and enjoy your job.

REFERENCE

African Industrial and Organizational Psychology by Nwagbo Eze 2004

How to keep Customers and Win Back Lost Ones: Michelle Auda

Managing change in the workplace, Cooper, and Lybrand by Alan Cave

Marketing Management: Millennium edition by Philip Kotler

Sigmund Freuds Model of Anxiety

Why you Act the Way you Do by Tim Lahaye

Wikipedia on Personality

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