7 min read
10 Tips on How to Handle Difficult Customers
Running a business can be both a blessing and a curse. And while most of your customers will be happy with your product or service, there will be a handful of customers that are guaranteed to give you a difficult time, which is when knowing how to handle difficult customers comes in very handy.
Dealing with difficult customers can be tricky, as you want to make sure they leave happy, or else, that can result in them going online and leaving your business a negative review, which is something you’d want to avoid at all costs.
In this article, we will give you 10 of our best tips on how to handle an upset customer and resolve their problem before they leave and go about the rest of their day. But, before we do that, we want to introduce you to all of the different types of difficult customers your business is likely to encounter.
Read on to learn more.
Types of Difficult Customers
There are many different types of difficult customers. Some are easier to deal with while others can be a nightmare. For instance, on the easier side, a difficult customer can be someone who needs a little more guidance in regards to your product or service whereas, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we have customers who are straight up angry, which for obvious reasons are much more difficult to deal with.
Knowing all of the different types of difficult customers you can encounter is important as you need to approach each one of them slightly differently. Keep on reading to find out more about each type of difficult customer.
The first type of difficult customer you might encounter is the impatient customer. This type of customer doesn’t have the time or wish to wait around. They want everything right there and then.
Dealing with impatient customers is particularly tricky as their impatience can quickly turn to anger if their needs are not met on the spot. And while solving their issue immediately should be your number one priority, depending on the case, that isn’t always possible.
So, the best way to deal with such a customer is to speak with a firm tone and provide them with a timely step-by-step solution to meeting their needs. Chances are that when you show you’ve listened and have provided them with a logical solution to their concern, they will start to calm down.
Indecisive customers can be hard. They can cause delays in service not just for them but for other customers as well. This could mean that they require a bit of guidance to help them make the right decision for their needs.
To handle indecisive customers, try to break things down as simply as possible. Ask the most relevant questions that can impact their final decision and listen to their concerns so you can make appropriate recommendations.
You can’t please everyone, and this goes for customers in any industry out there. So, it’s inevitable for businesses to encounter angry customers who aren’t happy with the end result of the product or service offered.
Learning how to deal with angry customers can be tricky and pretty frustrating. When trying to approach the situation, it’s very important to start it with an apologetic tone (even if you don’t think the reaction is fair) and try to resolve the situation in a quick and concise manner. You don’t want to spend too much time dealing with angry customers, but you don’t want them to feel like you aren’t taking them seriously either.
These customers can be very tough for some businesses. Demanding customers can feel like they are entitled to more than what you can offer. For example, they can demand a service that you aren’t allowed to do or they can ask for a refund for a non-refundable item.
With these customers, the best thing you can do is to be completely honest and transparent about why their demands cannot be met. And in the worst-case scenario, if a demanding customer won’t let go, you should be prepared to find a middle ground so all parties can be satisfied.
Vague customers are a concern because they make it hard for you to figure out how to satisfy their needs. For example, they may be giving unclear requests or might not be able to communicate their concern effectively. Vague customers can lead to a lot of confusion, but there are multiple ways to handle them.
It’s best to approach vague customers similarly to indecisive customers. This means asking them specific questions that will give you a clearer picture of their needs and what you can do to satisfy them.
Sometimes, no matter what you do to try and make the customer feel special, they will feel dissatisfied with your services. With these customers, it’s best to approach them in a calm manner, be as apologetic as possible, ask questions about why they are unhappy, listen, and provide them with a solution.
When learning how to handle upset customers, one very important thing to remember is that you should never dismiss their concerns. If you dismiss their concerns, they won’t feel important which will worsen their customer experience.
How to Deal With Difficult Customers
The approach you should take when dealing with difficult customers can be very individual on a case-by-case basis. This is because not two customers are exactly alike, which means you should prepare to be flexible during your problem resolution process.
To give you a helping hand, below you can read the best 10 tips on how to deal with an upset customer.
Always Stay Calm
The first, and arguably the most important thing to remember when dealing with difficult customers is to stay calm. Remember, your goal isn’t to confront them, but to lead them towards a resolution to their problem and increase their customer satisfaction. The more satisfied the customer, the better it is for your business, so always keep the tone as calm as possible when trying to address the situation.
If you appear angry, agitated, or confrontational, it might not rub off well on the customer. In fact, it might even cause them to get even angrier. If you’re looking to effectively manage the situation, you have to make sure you stay calm throughout the entire interaction.
Keep It Professional
Whenever you deal with a difficult customer, keep in mind that you are representing the company or business you work for. So, whatever you say or do will reflect on the business. And as a result of that, you don’t want to appear unprofessional in any shape or form. The more professional you are when speaking to a difficult customer, the easier it will be to assess the situation and take the right course of action.
Customers are very complex. There are many things that influence their mood or behavior. And while you won’t be able to get to the bottom of it 100% of the time, staying professional will make it much easier to understand the customer and resolve the problem in a timely manner.
Listen to the Customer
Every customer is different and as a result of that, they all likely have slightly different needs and wants, which you need to learn and deal with. And the best way to do that is by listening to the customer and what they have to say.
Regardless of the issue at hand, making the customer feel like they’ve been heard will go a long way in finding a resolution to the problem that they are facing.
Give the Customer Time
Another very important thing to remember is that you should never rush a difficult customer. If the customer feels like they are being rushed or pressured into making a decision, it might make the situation worse. Keep in mind that you’re there to resolve the customer’s problems and put them at ease, not to make the whole situation worse.
Don’t Be Afraid of Negative Outcomes
It’s always a good idea to try your very best and exhaust all possible options when dealing with a difficult customer. However, you won’t be able to resolve everyone’s problems and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid of a negative outcome if you truly know that you’ve done your best to try and help the customer.
Use the Help of Your Colleagues
While you always want to try to solve a problem without calling the manager or other people in the team, customers can be really difficult sometimes. If a customer is being particularly difficult and you don’t think you will be able to handle the situation alone, don’t hesitate to reach out to an employee or your shift manager and ask for help.
When doing this, you can inform the customer that you’re inviting another person into the conversation who’s in a higher position or might be able to offer a better solution.
Chunking is something a lot of people use to make it easier to handle daily tasks. However, when trying to handle difficult customers, chunking could be a good approach as well. When you “chunk” a problem, you break it down into several smaller problems, which makes the overall problem easier to handle.
Again, this isn’t the solution for all difficult customers. However, if you’re having a hard time finding a solution for a bigger problem, it might be because you’re trying to resolve a problem that is too big to resolve on its own and should rather be broken down into smaller problems.
Channel Your “Zen” Mind
The “Zen” mind is simply a frame of mind wherein you approach things as if you were a complete beginner. This means that you need to consider any problems that a beginner might encounter when dealing with a problem. That way, you can figure out how to explain the solution to the customer in the clearest way possible. This is particularly useful when dealing with customers who are confused or indecisive.
Being empathetic with your customer is very important, regardless of whether they are in the right or wrong. Empathizing will show them that you care about them and are putting yourself in their shoes.
Once you’ve gained their trust by being empathetic, it’s time to provide them with a timely resolution to their problem, which in most cases will resolve the issue as a whole.
Focus On Your Tone
Your overall tone when speaking to the customer is very important. This means you shouldn’t give off a feeling that you’re being aggressive, not taking them seriously, or don’t believe in their problem. The more sincere your tone, the more the customer will like you. And the more the customer will like you, the bigger the chance of successfully coming to a resolution with that customer.
No matter what type of business or company you run, you will encounter difficult customers. And when trying to handle them, it’s important to make sure that you approach each one differently and try to meet their specific needs and concerns to the best of your ability.
The tips we provided you above are tried and tested so you can rest assured that applying each one of them appropriately when dealing with difficult customers is going to be of massive help in resolving your clientele’s problems.
Leonard Horowitz has 15 years of Global Directing Customer Support teams and has been leading ULTATEL's 24/7 award-winning team for over 2 years.