Benchmark Business Group

What is the Sound of Frustration?

June 16, 2015

When a business is reactive to customer frustrations instead of being proactive, it's often more difficult to turn the experience into one that leaves the client feeling as if the businesses went above and beyond to meet their needs and exceed their expectations. They key is to identify a frustration as soon as possible, which starts with training. Your staff needs to be trained on how to "listen" for frustrations before your customers have expressed their frustration.


Listed below are a few elements that your staff should be trained to "listen" for when dealing with customers. These elements can change if the interaction is over the phone, in person, or through other communications such as text, email, or social media. Don't stop with the few we've given below. Use them as a starting point to identify the training your staff needs.


  • Tone of voice - If your staff is dealing one on one with your customers, they should be trained to "listen" for tone of voice. Most people know that if voices start to go up, the customer is probably very happy or quite the opposite. The opportunity to listen for frustrations is to determine the in-betweens. Some people may get very calm and methodical before getting upset. Others start to use more forceful tones before turning up the volume. Some may even resort to sarcasm. At this point, you have a chance to turn the conversation around before customers are too frustrated. It's a great time to stop and assess the situation and the communication style you are using with that customer(If you haven't already done so, talk to your business coach about our DiSC assessments and how they can help you and your team with customer communication). When you notice a change in the tone of a customer's voice you can change your own communication method. In some cases, simply address the situation by saying, "I might be wrong, but it seems like you are getting frustrated with this process, what can I do to make this better?"
  • Body language - Just like tone of voice, there are certain body language signs that are easy to identify. Some of the more subtle signs might be harder to identify. Things such as eye rolling, shaking their head, rubbing their forehead, or even fidgeting can signal that someone is getting frustrated BEFORE the easier to read body language occurs. The sooner you detect someone's frustration, the easier it can be to redirect the conversation. You can use the same tips from tone of voice in this situation.
  • Lack of Response - Silence does not mean that everything is okay. In fact, it might be the calm before the storm. Some customers may never make a big scene. That doesn't mean they are satisfied the service. It could be that they plan on walking out that door and never coming back again or worse, take an action that may have a more direct effect on the business. The key is to be proactive when you feel there is a lack of response from a customer. By being proactive you will have the ability to turn frustration into opportunity. When you receive a lack of response, be sure to check in with the customer, "I haven't heard back from you. I just wanted to check in and make sure everything was settled to your satisfaction." If the silence is in person, you might ask, "Is there any way we could make this a better experience for you?"
  • Iffy Language - "It's okay" or "It's fine" are NOT the responses you want to hear from your customer. Granted, there are some customers that will never say things such as, "That was excellent", but when you hear things such as "okay" or "fine", a warning bell should be sounding in the minds or you and your staff. Is it really okay or is the customer telling you they are truly not happy but are not going to show their hand without more conversation? A quick and easy response is, "I'm glad your experience was okay, but is there anything I could do right now to make it excellent?"

Don't forget to join us next week as we discuss how to create a proactive plan for dealing with customer frustrations. Following the steps next week will help you generate more specific responses that are geared toward your business.


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