Once again, another dose of friendly web design banter.
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October, 2023 Edition
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Business relationships can be complicated. Over the years, I have seen more than one screaming match involving associates. I was once yelled at by an otherwise pleasant woman who knew I was not the source of her problem. A person she had previously worked with had not followed through with an important task, and I was the bearer of the bad news. I'll be honest; I was surprised she knew all the words that she used. To her credit, she used each word appropriately.

I have a temper, but I learned early in business it does not pay. Maintaining my composure and listening (it was not easy or comfortable) to everything the woman had to say allowed her to vent and prevented the situation from escalating. Her husband later thanked me for my professionalism. She did not.

As I mentioned, I have a temper, so I understood where the woman was coming from. When we discover that someone we trusted abused that trust, we naturally become angry. When a customer is angry, the last thing we need to do is add fuel to the fire.

Diffusing a volatile situation with a customer is crucial to maintaining our reputation. An angry customer may never do business with you again. If you participate in a contentious discussion, you risk losing more than just one customer. Avoid looking at the issue like an argument that you can win and focus on the source of the customer's anger. Solving the problem of an angry customer would be ideal, but first, we have to dissolve the volatility.

It is not what is said or done to us but how we react that determines the outcome. So, stay calm, apologize, and look for a solution. If you haven't done anything wrong, you can still apologize for the situation. "I'm sorry if I have done anything to make you angry. That is the last thing I wanted."

Explain that you value them and want to solve the problem together. "We appreciate your business and want to work with you to find a solution we can both live with."

Now, it can get tricky. Present a solution that you believe may be agreeable to your customer. If a solution is not apparent, ask your customers what outcome would satisfy them. Fulfill their request if at all possible. Be honest with your customer if you cannot achieve their request.

If your ability to solve the problem is unclear, ask your customer for a reasonable time to look into the issue. If your customer agrees, do not delay; gather the information needed and respond quickly.

The only way to win this type of argument is to retain the customer. It does not matter who has the better position or comes out on top. If you can preserve the customer relationship, you win.
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