How to Manage a Talkative Customer

I was shopping at one of my favorite retail big box stores recently.  As I stood in line to pay for the items I intended to purchase, I could not help but observe the long-winded conversation the customer in front of me was having with the cashier.

I was not the only person in line; 3 customers were behind me.  Common courtesy would have suggested to the cashier to graciously end the long-winded customer’s monologue so that the rest of us could make our purchases and be on our way.  Apparently, the loquacious customer decided her topic was important and the cashier did not know how to professionally tell her that she must move along in order to help others who were in line.

The cashier could benefit from customer training on how to handle a talkative customer.  One does not have to be surly to move along a chatty customer.  An example of how to handle the matter can go something like this:  “I appreciate you taking time to share with me, however, as you can see, the customers behind you are patiently waiting to pay for their purchases and I must say ‘goodbye’ to you for now.  Enjoy yourself and have a pleasant day”.

If it is a telephone interaction about a problem with equipment, here is an example that one can use:

Answer the telephone with a pleasant and enthusiastic greeting.  As the customer talks, offer positive feedback such as, “yes”, “I see”, “I understand” to let them know you are listening to them.  As the customer explains the problem:

  • Tell them your name and ask for their name.
  • Ask permission to ask specific questions about what they are experiencing.
  • Ask for the model number, serial number and any other information that will help you identify the product.
  • Minimize the time for responses by confirming the information they are giving to you.
  • Repeat what the customer said to show you were listening to him.
  • Give basic instructions to problem solve (they may not have done this prior to calling you).

As you walk through the steps of problem resolution, wind up the call by asking if you have provided them with the thorough assistance they needed.  If you have not, bring a qualified customer service representative or manager to the call who is more knowledgeable so that the problem can be resolved expeditiously.

Remember, the customer is the reason you have a business and you want your business to be successful.  Treat all customers with dignity and respect.   As a result, you will find that more of your customers will become loyal clients who become valuable referral sources.

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