Subscribers are the lifeblood of a business;  more accurately, it’s their cash. A fundamental element of being a successful business is to offer a product or service that people want to pay for.

When subscribers complain or are disappointed, their monthly fee is at risk.  But, that’s not the only thing at risk. Today’s media-savvy customers can jump on a social platform to vent to hundreds of friends and family and stomp all over your good reputation. If you get enough negative social media posts, your good name will be shattered.

Even with stellar service and staff, you can’t please everyone. For those upset, difficult-to-work-with folks there are tactics you can employ to keep your reputation intact.

Create a Process and Establish an Attitude

The attitude to have when working with a difficult subscriber is non-judgment. You’ll also need patience to understand the subscriber’s point of view and get to common ground.

While a process makes it easier to deal with difficult subscribers, each situation will be different because your customers are unique.

these are the five steps to get to a resolution and maintain your good name:

  1.       Listen to Understand

When customers share their disappointment, they want to be heard. Listen to subscriber’s words and confirm why they are upset, “What I’m hearing is, you have a limited budget, but our lowest price package doesn’t have the services you need. Is that right?”  

If they confirm that’s the problem, move toward a resolution. If that’s not it, say, “Can you tell me more so I can understand the issue?” At this stage of the interaction, make sure your subscriber feels heard and understood before bringing up a resolution. 

  1.       Cut Through Preconceived Attitudes

Have you ever spoken with someone who expected you to be disinterested, ignore their complaints and rush them off the phone? When someone like this is an unhappy customer, it’s difficult to get to a resolution because they have an expectation of how the interaction will go. 

The best way to deal with this difficult subscriber is reassure them that you want to help. Use statements like, “I want to know how I can help correct this issue.” If the customer returns to being angry, bring the conversation back to focus on a resolution. “How can I make you feel comfortable with working toward a resolution?” Be persistent in helping these subscribers be open to your suggestions.

  1.       Segment Complex Problems

Make complicated problems easier to tackle by breaking them into multiple manageable issues. For instance, a subscriber may call to find out about a fee that’s on their regular invoice, then suddenly blurt out that they can’t ever get online to play “League of Legends” at 7 pm on a work night, and explode about how difficult it is to connect with anyone at your WISP 

That’s at least three problems rolled into one, so break them up to resolve them one at a time. If your subscriber jumps around to different issues, pull them back to the one issue you’re working on before moving onto the next.  

  1.       Follow-up When You Say You Will

If the problem can’t be resolved during a single phone call, tell the subscriber how you plan to correct the situation and when they can expect a resolution. Whether the problem can be resolved in the timeline you set or not, the best way to deal with a difficult subscriber is to follow up when you say you will and give an honest update. 

Stay centered and keep your focus on problem resolution.

  1.       Don’t Make Anger Personal

You don’t know what upset an angry subscriber. It could be that their kids brought home a poor report card, or they had a flat tire on the way home from the market or their partner broke up with them over the weekend.

Or, maybe they’ve used aggression as a bargaining chip and it’s natural for them to show anger as leverage for getting their way.

The point is, don’t make the anger about you or the situation. Deal with the issue. 

In every support event, stay calm and keep moving forward. How you and your staff react under pressure impacts your relationships and the health of your subscription business.

Although conflict is part of a business and it’s important to keep subscribers happy, if you have a customer who is abusive to you or your staff, cut them loose. It’s not worth losing a good staff member who is trying their best to deal with a difficult subscriber who is unapologetic and mean.

On the other hand, don’t allow your staff to become hostile to your subscribers no matter how mean the subscribers. And, don’t put your anger into an email to a subscriber that can be used against you on social media.

No matter how well prepared, you may be faced with situations that baffle you. A good place to talk it out is in a closed group of WISP operators, like WISP Talk. You can get tips or share stories with people who understand your point of view.

And, if you’re looking for a vendor who is committed to helping you become your absolute best, check-in with Visp’s WISP Success Blog on new topics about business growth from time-to-time.