Dealing with customers who argue

'OK, I'm sorry I didn't think it through... are you happy now?'

Here is how I deal with customers who argue. Perhaps it might help you.

  1. Acknowledge they might be right but there is a process to follow. People may volunteer their ideas because they have special knowledge or experience they aren’t sharing with you. You can acknowledge their ideas and value them, yet also state that there is a process and you just have to just start with the basics.
  2. Start with the basics. Many times, in fact, most times with troubleshooting, the basics solve the problem. When I say there is a process there actually is. You have to verify always that the requirements are met. You can’t assume they are met at any time. Today, in fact, I had an example where the exact same hardware didn’t accept the video driver another system did. Just because it works on one system doesn’t mean it will work on an identical system.
  3. 'OK, I'm sorry I didn't think it through... are you happy now?'
    ‘OK, I’m sorry I didn’t think it through… are you happy now?’

    Don’t assume that you have the answer. You can say “This may not work, but humor me.” This lets the other person feel they are smarter than you, and waiting to prove you wrong. If you are proven wrong, great, then you are closer to a solution. If you are proven right, so what, you might be wrong next time.

  4. Look for the long-term answer. Many times people want something that works now. Try to look down into the future and consider the long-term answer. You can always fix something now with a workaround, but consider if this is the best choice for the customer. Many times companies survive with workarounds, but at a big cost and hassle. Make sure that what you suggest is cost-effective as well.
  5. If they absolutely want you to do it their way, then do it their way and when it fails, it is your turn to do it your way. I often do this and even though I know that it will fail. Often people need to learn that their ideas are not correct, and when you prove this by doing it, then they will shut up. Yes, it is a waste of time/money, but some people will not let things go. Some people are so arrogant that they think they are always right. I like showing them that they aren’t as smart as they think in a kind way.

If you think #5 is not a solution, then you are stuck on always needing to be right. Often in life, you have to be willing to waste time to help people learn a lesson. It is not fun to waste time, but if it’s a quick thing, it is often a faster solution than trying to educate them about why they are wrong.

It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, the only thing that matters is getting it working in a cost-effective way.

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