How to Handle Difficult Customers
Date : Jun 01, 2021
Author : DR Armed Zayed
Categories : Business Tips
Regardless of the type or size of a business, difficult customers are a common occurrence. They tend to be impolite, complain about everything and anything, refuse to pay, ask difficult questions, and whatnot. Difficult customers are a major challenge that can, actually, paint a picture of how your target demographics see your business. The goal is to handle difficult customers effectively, without too much hassle. How to make it happen? Read on to see how to handle difficult customers or clients.
How to handle difficult customers at work?
The customer is always right, they say. But some customers are not as easy to handle as others. Dealing with some clients can be stressful and overwhelming, but these situations are bound to happen at one point or another.
Before we move on to show you how to handle difficult customers at work, it’s important to emphasize the importance of experience. Every difficult customer is an opportunity to learn. Each time you handle one complaint, you have more experience and knowledge for the next one. One of the most positive ways to approach this situation is to consider it as an experience that will make you better at what you do. It may seem difficult at first, but if you keep focusing on this fact it will be easier to do so.
Now, let’s see how to handle difficult customers at the workplace.
1. Don’t ignore/dismiss them
Nobody wants to be ignored or dismissed. So, when a customer is complaining about something you need to let them have their say. Dismissing their complaints could aggravate the whole situation.
2. Show empathy
A difficult customer in front of you complaining about this and that may seem like an enemy. But, you need a different approach here. Empathy is crucial. Put yourself in their shoes and picture yourself in the same situation. Would you react the same way? Or, at least, do you understand why they chose to react the way they did? Show them you identify with their problem. Customers will be a lot calmer instantly.
3. Remain calm
Some customers don’t pay attention to the way they express their dissatisfaction. This often results in insults directed at employees. Being at the receiving end of one such communication can make your “blood boil”.
You may feel the anger flowing through your veins and decide to respond. But, try to be as calm as you can in this situation. Remaining calm is easier said than done. One thing that can help you is to remember their complaints aren’t personal. They’re not there being difficult because they have something against you. The reason behind their complaint is poor service or product.
4. Lower your voice
Sometimes we raise our voices without even noticing. It’s a spontaneous reaction to verbal attacks, you’re trying to defend yourself. However, in order to handle difficult customers successfully, you need to lower your voice. This suggestion goes hand in hand with the previous tip to remain calm. Your calm voice and demeanour will reflect on the difficult customer and their anger will start to dissipate.
5. Show interest
Probably the easiest way to calm down an angry customer is to show interest. You can do so by asking certain questions. For example, you may want to ask how you can help them. It’s also useful to ask questions about specifics of the situation they complained about.
In some cases, customers are difficult because they’re indecisive. Show them you care by offering help should they feel it’s necessary. Another option is to ask them a few questions that will help them narrow down their choice and decide faster.
6. Assume other customers are watching
A simple change in perspective can change the way you handle difficult customers and react to things they say. Always assume you’re not alone and other customers are watching everything. This perspective switch can make your approach more polite, constructive, and effective. You’ll think more clearly when responding to their complaints.
Difficult customers are a major challenge for any business because they tend to leave negative feedback or speak out about your company in a negative way. When you approach the situation from a different perspective, you can successfully resolve it. Unruly customers will know you’ve done everything you can and talk about it. And even if there are other customers, they’ll see it too.
7. Apologize and offer
What infuriates customers the most is the absence of apology when they’re reporting a negative experience. Many businesses simply refuse to apologize to customers, if their complaints are valid.
A simple apology can turn the whole situation around. It’s the first step toward successful resolution of the problem and it can help turn a critic into a loyal customer again.
In some situations, an apology can work on its own, but in others, you’ll need something else as well. That’s when the offer steps in. Offer customers something to make up for their dissatisfaction e.g. a discount code for their next visit.
Although the last thing you want is to offer anything to a difficult person, compensating for their negative experience can turn the whole situation around.
8. Other things you may want to do
- Remember they’re humans
- Personalize your email response
- Be proactive and describe how you’re going to handle their problem
- Use a polite, positive tone
- Never scold the customer
- Maintain a healthy level of eye contact
- Communicate what you can and can’t do about their problem, they need to know their options
How to handle difficult customers over the phone?
Many customers decide to express their dissatisfaction by dialing the number of a specific business. These situations happen unexpectedly and catch you off-guard. Things you say can either calm them down or only infuriate them even more. Good prep is crucial, so you may want to learn how to handle difficult customers over the phone or train with your colleagues.
When dealing with angry and difficult customers over the phone you need to listen. In other words, don’t just wait for them to stalk talking. Instead, you need to actively listen to pick up as much info as possible from things they say.
The more you know the nature of their problem, the easier it is to solve it. For that reason, you also need to provide validation to the caller. At the end of the day, that difficult person just wants you to acknowledge they are upset for a good reason.
A common mistake that many customer service professionals make is that they tend to talk down to customers. This approach is not recommended! Instead, you should point out there is a problem, but it can be fixed.
Make sure to apologize for the inconvenience in case the customer’s reaction resulted from a mistake done by your business. With an apology, the best thing to do is to offer multiple solutions. In case their complaint is baseless, you may want to be polite, patient, and explain the whole situation.
Whenever possible, you need to avoid putting a customer on hold. This can only infuriate them even more and they may take it as a sign of disrespect. Although tricky, you may want to come up with a solution to their problem while still speaking to them. Or promise to get back to them as soon as possible, and actually do it.
How to handle difficult customer interview question
When discussing the whole subject of dealing with difficult clients we can’t overlook one important thing – handling this question at your job interview. Most employers ask how to handle difficult customer interview questions before they decide whether they would hire you or not.
So, what would you say if the potential employer asked how to handle difficult conversations with customers? One of the best approaches is to use past experiences to answer this question.
Before you answer, you need to keep in mind employer wants to assess your problem-solving capabilities. They’re also looking for a candidate with strong interpersonal skills. Behavioural questions are complex. Your goal is to provide a well-crafted and thoughtful response. For that purpose, you may want to use tips and recommendations from this post.
The way you tell the story is equally important as the story or explanation itself. You may want to follow a STAR method when answering potential employer’s questions. The method revolves around:
- Situation – use enough context for the employer to get a clear picture, but keep it simple at the same time
- Task – describe your role or responsibility in the situation
- Action – describe strategies you implemented to handle a difficult customer
- Result – talk about the specific positive conclusion and other potential positive outcomes that happened later e.g. client gave a positive feedback
While difficult customers are a common problem, many people in the workplace don’t handle them effectively. Most customers would repeat the purchase or use a service from a business with outstanding customer service. Handling difficult customers is something you learn and enrich through your career, it’s also a matter of training, and the overall atmosphere at work. You need to practice active listening, show empathy, be proactive, and remain calm.