Four Techniques and Statements for Handling Difficult Visitors in the Office
Receptionists deal with thousands of different visitors every day, and many of those visitors come with a variety of unexpected situations your front desk staff needs to be prepared to handle. One of those unexpected situations can be dealing with a difficult visitor. Remember a solid experience and a positive impression will begin right there, so make sure it’ll be a good one.
Here are four techniques and statements that you can apply when handling difficult visitors in the office space:
1. Listen Actively
First thing is to make sure you listen carefully to what your visitor is telling you. Paying attention to their initial rant will help you anticipate future questions in a way that will bring them ease and will make them feel like you really are listening and care about their concerns.
Paraphrase what they tell you to help assure them that you really understand their problems. Also, mirroring their emotions is crucial. For example, if you have a visitor that is clearly in a bad mood and wants everything done in two seconds, acknowledging their time-sensitivity followed by fast and efficient work will do the trick! On the other hand, if you have a friendly, talkative visitor, trying to get everything done in the blink of an eye for them will end up making them feel like you want to get rid of them and will impact their experience negatively.
Here are some active listening statements that can help you transmit to your visitor that you understand exactly what they are telling you:
“So, what I understand so far is… it would be great if you could tell me a bit more about…”
- “Alright, I understand that you are having some issues with… Would that be correct?”
“In order for me to grasp a better understanding of what happened, could you tell me when/what/where…?”
2. Be Empathetic & Understanding
Empathy goes a long way when dealing with a difficult visitor. This goes hand-in-hand with your active listening skills. If you pay attention to your visitors’ emotions, you will be able to engage appropriately. Offering an empathetic statement such as “I understand your concern” or “I get how difficult this might be for you” could easily defuse a negative situation.
Just think of the last time you felt overwhelmed and that crashed into some bad servicing, how did that make you feel? Did you feel mistreated? Attacked? That’s exactly what you don’t want your visitors to feel like. Just keep in mind that we all have tough days, and if we can, why make them tougher for someone else? A friendly smile and a kind word can be exactly what your visitor needs to know he or she is in the right place.
Showing empathy and having it sound real can be a bit harder than you think, that’s why it’s a good idea to be familiar with a few statements that can be used with just a few twists and personalisation based on the issue and type of visitor you are dealing with. Here are a few:
- “I’m sorry you are having this problem…”
- “I completely understand how you feel…”
- “I know how frustrating this can be…”
3. Do Not Respond to Anger with Anger
This is the one behaviour you should not mirror from your visitor. When we come across someone who is angry and irrational, we tend to get defensive in a heartbeat. It’s simply human behaviour. But it’s important to keep in mind that this other person’s judgment and mind are clouded, and getting defensive will only make it worst.
By not mimicking this behaviour, you will avoid any possible escalation or official complaints. Don’t take it personal. Their anger is not a reflection of your services nor skills, but it’s entirely up to you to make sure it stays that way.
Listen to your visitors, acknowledge them and provide solutions. This will help bring easy to the situation. Remember that if you have an angry visitor, it’s in your hands to turn their experience around and not let it be a reflection of the entire business.
Here are some phrases you can use when trying to de-escalate or cool down a situation with a difficult visitor:
- “I’m so sorry that you feel this way, Mrs. Visitor, here’s what we can do…”
- “May I suggest that…?”
- “I understand your frustration and your feedback is always important to us. What I’ll do for you right now is…”
4. Take Ownership
Being understanding and empathetic with an aggravated or impatient visitor will help bring down the wall that was between the two of you at first. Next, taking ownership is crucial. You’ve managed to cool them off by making them feel like they’re being listened to and acknowledged, but in order for you to keep that up, it’s necessary to address whatever issues upset them in the first place.
After your empathy statement, you should throw in an ownership one. For example, using statements such as “I get why this can be upsetting, but don’t worry, you’re in the right hands and I will make sure to get this sorted out for you immediately” will transmit confidence and efficiency. It will assure your visitors that their needs are your priorities.
Dealing with difficult visitors at the front desk can sometimes feel like dealing with a child throwing a tantrum. To help you handle this properly from the start, we want to share with you some effective statements you can use to better the situation:
- “I understand what the problem is and I assure you I will do everything to resolve it.”
- “I know this can be frustrating but let me do everything I can to help you. Please take a sit and I will let you know as soon as it’s sorted out. In the meantime, can I offer you something to drink?”
- “Mr. Visitor, I can see why you feel like that. Let me take a look and I’ll be more than happy to help you get this taken care of as soon as possible.”
Offering a concrete solution will not only ensure immediate damage control but will also let your visitors know that they are in the hands of a company filled with self-efficient and action-oriented employees that truly care about them.