A few weeks ago, I was at a shop where I witnessed a store manager and a customer arguing loudly. The customer was ranting and even said, “I’m a customer and you should respect even if I’m wrong!” He was obviously bordering on being obnoxious but yeah, he’s right.

Whoever said “The Customer is King” hit it right on the money. At some point, you will encounter a very difficult customer and this is the harsh reality that you have to face.

It is important to treat your customers properly as they’re the best advertisement that a store could ever have. A bad review for a business could result to failure.

Customer service skills, however, do not come naturally for some people. When a person becomes aggressive, another person’s nature is to fight back. It takes special skill and an extraordinary amount of patience to deal with customers who demand value for their money up to the last cent.

Here are a few easy tips on how to improve your customer skills:

• Learn to Listen

Listening is different from hearing. Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sounds by ear. Listening, on the other hand, requires concentration so the brain processes meaning from the words or sentences.

If a customer is suddenly shouting at you, force yourself to listen beyond the yelling and understand the words he’s saying. You can also ask him a question in a calm voice without sounding condescending. I find this strategy quite effective because

1) it shows the customer that there’s someone willing to listen and
2) it motivates him to lower his voice and explain his emotions.

It can be difficult at first but once you’ve gotten the knack of it, your buyers will surely return to you knowing you can understand what they are saying without too much emotional stress.

• Address the reason

When people are mad, they tend to say things that may be hurtful to one’s feelings. But there are reasons why the words are being said. Find the reason behind the words and address that reason.

A client could be irate because he was waiting for a long time. The solution is to ensure that the problem is being resolved quickly to the customer’s satisfaction.

Try to see things from their perspective to help you find the basis for their angry words. It can be challenging when the client is on the offensive, but keep your calm and count to 10 before you say those words which could end a business relationship.

• Keep your Promises

When we’re with a customer that we want to keep, we tend to promise everything including the kitchen sink. Make sure though that you intend to give up the kitchen sink when the client demands for it. On that note, never promise for something that you cannot afford to give and if you do give your word, make sure you follow through. If the client persists, then it’s time to negotiate.

• Smile.

Smiling requires less work than frowning. It conveys the message that you are a receptive person and people will tend to approach you more with their concerns. It makes other people more comfortable. Make sure you don’t smile during inappropriate moments but nevertheless, it’s the best skill to have.

Like I said, it can be difficult at first. But I believe developing your customer service skills is just like an exercise—a mental and emotional one. You need to practice your skills over and over again until you finally get the hang of it.