7 Tips on how to manage a demand to speak to the manager.
If you work in any customer facing role, I am sure that you have had this request a few times. There are a number of responses that I would like you to consider:
1. You could fetch the manager – sometime this will defuse the situation. In fact, if you dressed up the janitor in a manager’s uniform and produced them, the fact that the customer feels they have been listened to by someone more senior can take the steam out of the situation.
2. Tell the customer that the manager is not available but reiterate that you wish to help them and immediately repeat how you can solve the situation and what the next step is.
3. If you are the most senior person, when you receive a demand to speak to the manager then convey this fact to the customer in a polite way, re-clarify the situation offering options if possible, e.g. “I can assure you that I will relay your request to ‘X’ and if you wish to take this issue further you can contact/write letter etc.
4. Ask the customer if they could speak to a manager what would the say/expect to achieve. (Very often their request will be similar to what they are asking of you). At this point you can attempt to do what you can to solve the situation. When you vary your behaviour you will get different results, the more approaches that you try the more you will learn.
5. Agree with them, even if you just agree that they are in a particular state. When we hear that someone agrees with us we feel justified, listened too, valued and in the right. This will have the effect of defusing a situation. We are not suggesting that you agree that the customer is right if they are not. However, you can agree with one aspect of the situation, you can agree that they are in a certain state. So for example, if the customer is angry or upset you can acknowledge this by simply saying, “I can see that you are very angry/upset about this situation.” Now the customer feels acknowledged and that in some way you empathise with the situation, you can now negotiate in a more cooperative environment.
6. They want Action! They want accountability! Not only does the customer demand action but they want proof of the action. We all understand how essential it is to fulfil our promises, but it is equally as important to provide evidence that the action will take place. How do we provide evidence? Evidence of the action can take many forms, for example you may provide a direct contact details for the person who will make the final decision. You may provide a receipt for any refund or compensation. You may copy the customer into any communication with a senior colleague. By providing the evidence of the action the customer will feel that can hold people accountable.
7. Use an apology. Don’t be afraid to apologise. You don’t have to apologise in such a way that acknowledges blame, you can apologise for the customers experience and the impact that it has had on them.
Remember, use these new techniques on easy customers please avoid practising your skills on the steamrollers. Build up your skills like you would your muscles in the gym. When you are proficient and strong then and only then should you use them on hostile customers.
For more help visit our Conflict Resolution Training page.