Customer Negotiations can be tricky
Creditor/customer disputes can be tricky. And without a doubt, the longer they linger, the trickier they become. Critical to the resolution is fast action.
If you have a plan in place for handling disputes before they occur, you’re much more likely to resolve them quickly!
Consider the following action steps for the next time you find yourself at odds with a customer. Hopefully, you can resolve the problem AND retain a good customer relationship in the process!
BEFORE YOU TALK
#1. Know the case inside and out.
Before you pick up the phone to begin a discussion, study the dates and figures so that you enter the conversation with as many accurate facts as you can possibly know. Your customer may be right about a few things. They may be partially right or way off base. Every fact is important. The more you know, the better you can communicate toward resolution that’s fair to both of you.
#2. Weigh the cost.
Is the dispute worth it to you to negotiate or would it be more economical and prudent to write the disputed amount off? Your time is worth money and so is the time your staff works to resolve to a dispute. Weigh the costs to be sure it makes good money sense to negotiate.
DURING YOUR CONVERSATION
#3. Take a non-confrontational approach.
Ask questions so you can clarify any points that may be unclear. Verbally confirm dates, times, orders, and dollar amounts to further verify your understanding of the core facts of the case.
#4. Provide documentation.
If your customer requests documentation, quickly provide it. Having done your homework, you may be able to email anything they need on the spot.
#5. Keep an open mind.
Your customer may open up a whole new perspective you’ve not thought of that may help to expedite a resolution. You may still disagree, but it might affect the final outcome. Keeping an open mind will help build rapport as you find areas where you agree.
#6. Tackle the easy one first.
When working on several issues, try solving one of the simpler issues early in the conversation. Having set a tone for negotiation, it may help to expedite the resolution of the more difficult issues.
#7. Create a list of possible solutions.
Discuss possible solutions you both will find acceptable. Include the time frame and action steps for both you and your customer.
AFTER THE CONVERSATION
#8. Put it in writing.
Put your action steps and promises into writing and get the document into your customer’s hands. Request a signature.
Key to this entire process of negotiation is to follow-up when agreements are made. If your customer breaks a promise on any action point he agreed to, follow-up immediately.
Negotiating is a process. It’s a process that may go a little more smoothly when these steps are implemented.