Principle 6 – Never lose your patience with a customer

If you’ve followed principles 4 and 5, you will hopefully never have your patience fail!  Similarly, if you are patent with a customer that is difficult, you will have a much better chance to successfully listen and treat that customer of yours with the respect they deserve.

Keeping patent is mostly about keeping yourself in check.  We might even title this the “Slater Principle” or say – Don’t “Slater” your customer” – in honor of the Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater who cracked under the pressure of dealing with irate passengers.  Apparently Slater had “had enough” and was “not going to take it anymore!”

But look at what happened there.  He lost his job, behaved in a reckless and dangerous way when he popped open the evacuation slide, was arrested, is going to trial, and has shut himself out of a profession he had indicated that he loved.  He had a moment of fame, but the cost was really quite high.

If you feel your patience running out, you’ve got a problem.  It’s time to wrap it up with that customer.  There are many techniques to handling an irate customer, or any other difficult situation, and cannot be properly handled within this article.  We’ll assume for now that you’ve done everything you can to satisfy your customer within your ability to do so.  If you can hand this customer to someone else, do so with respect.  Be sure to be fair in briefing the person you are handing the situation over to, and apologize to your customer that you could not resolve the matter for them.  If there is nobody you can hand this customer off to, then do the same thing – apologize you could not resolve the matter for them.

Let’s be realistic here – some customers will not be able to keep their patience, and at that point they may simply be unreasonable to deal with.  However, if you have listened to them to understand their problem, been respectful of them throughout, and kept your cool . . . you have the opportunity to turn that customer into a loyal, profitable customer for your business.

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