Skip to Content
Influencers Invited Sales Blog

Do You Keep The Customer When The Bread Is Moldy?

I don’t see if often, but I saw it the other day. A real sales professional. A young fellow named Ron, between 18 and 20 years old, working in a grocery store.

As I stood at the customer service counter of my local grocery store waiting for my new discount buyers card to be processed a customer approached. I could see they were angry. You know, red in the face, mumbling to themselves and slamming a loaf of bread down on the counter.

Immediately Ron acknowledged the customer with, “May I help you?” And the tyrant began. The customer who lived over 20 minutes away had purchased the loaf of bread that he had already slammed on the counter the previous day. Upon opening it earlier in the morning for breakfast he found it to be moldy and was demanding an explanation, and compensation for the bread and the time he spent returning to the store.

Then it happened,

Ron showed he was a sales professional. He immediately apologized and assured the customer that he, Ron, would take care of his problem personally. Ron then did not add fuel to the fire by asking the customer for his receipt. (Don’t ya just hate that when you return a defective item?)

Ron empathized with the customer by saying, “Sir, I understand, your time is valuable and this should not have happened. He then asked the customer if there were any other problems with the items he had purchased the previous day and again reassured the customer that he, Ron, would take care of the customers needs immediately. He excused himself, turned and picked up the telephone and called the store manager’s, explaining to the customer that he needed to get the store mangers permission and that it would take less than half a minute.

After speaking briefly with the store manager, Ron turned back towards the customer and asked him if he would like a full refund and another loaf of bread or discount coupons in the amount of double the price of the bread to be used at a later date. The now very calm customer chose the refund and another loaf of bread.

Ron turned an angry, lost customer into a customer who left thanking him for his great service and one who surely will return many, many times for the store to profit on over and over again.

6 steps to handling Difficult Customers

  1. Assure: Assure them you will take care of their problems, needs and wants. “I am sorry you are having a problem. I assure you I will solve your problem (need, want).”
  2. Ask Questions:
    “Please tell me what your problem, (need, want) is.” “Please tell me all about you’re.” “Please explain to me all we did…”
  3. Empathize with them: “I understand your frustration.” “I would feel the same way.”
  4. Encourage venting: Listen to them. Let them vent. Encourage venting by asking more questions.”Please tell me more about your concerns.” “Tell me more about the problem.”
  5. Reassure: Reassure and Reassure them more that you will solve their problems (needs, wants).
  6. Propose an action plan: Offer a solution by giving them choices.
    • People want to feel they are in control. When you give them choices they feel they are in control.
    • If they do not like the choices you present them, give them more choices or ask them how they would like the problem solved. Many times they will ask for less than you were willing to give.

About the author