Winning with Customers #43: The Know It All Customer

 

Every now and then you bump into a customer who is Very Clever, and is intent on showing you exactly how much smarter he is than you. The best thing you can do with this person, of course, is to just stand back and listen to him (her), and let him know how impressed you are with his knowledge. This is exactly what he is looking for, and he will in turn be impress by you, because you are clearly smart enough to recognize brilliance when you see it. But what do you do when he is wrong? When the things he is saying just aren’t accurate?

Begin by asking yourself how important is it for you to correct him. If his misconception isn’t really going to have an impact on things, then the best strategy is to just let it go. If there is no real benefit to setting him straight, why create unnecessary tension with this customer? But if it is something important, something that absolutely needs to be clarified or corrected, here’s how you should do it. Use the Confirm, Clarify, and Continue technique.

1. Confirm his understanding
Usually when people have a misconception of something there some seed of truth in it, so make sure you acknowledge that. This lets him know that you don’t think he’s crazy and you know where he’s coming from. So let’s say for example the customer says something like “Your company offers free shipping,” and maybe you do, but his order isn’t big enough. You could say “Yabut, your order isn’t big enough.” But that’s only going to start an argument. Try this instead: “You are absolutely right! We do offer shipping for all orders over two hundred dollars.”

2. Clarify
This is the part where you give him the proper information and you’d say something like “For order less than two hundred dollars shipping does apply.”

3. Continue
The important part is to not leave it after you corrected him. You need to move the conversation forward, and you do this by asking a question. So you might say something like “Is there anything else you would like to bring to the order to raise the amount to the two hundred dollar threshold?” or “Would you like to wait until you have an order that’s valued at two hundred dollars?”

This effectually changes the focus of the conversation from a disagreement about the facts to a decision that the customer now has to make. It doesn’t work 100% at the time (nothing does) but it sure beats starting an argument!

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