How to Deal with Difficult Customers

You may have had a tough day and the last thing you need is a complaint from a customer who is short-tempered, unhappy or unreasonable. Customer service is a priority, however, so you should have a method of dealing with people who need special attention.




Try these suggestions to overcome the friction and calm even your most difficult customers:

Hear them out. Many times people just want to be heard. When we really listen to them, it can defuse much of their anger. Understand that their concerns are important to them, even if you find them somewhat unreasonable. Giving your full attention to the customer allows them a chance to explain their frustration, and for you to see their perspective.

Acknowledge their feelings. You don’t have to agree with your customer to let them know that you hear what they’re saying. When you employ active listening skills, you are voicing their concerns back to them to acknowledge them and say “I understand you.” This gives you a chance to attempt to reach a resolution or seek more information and follow up later.

It’s not about you.  Difficult customers who rant are venting their emotions, which reflects what is going on with them. It may not involve you personally at all. Step back a bit emotionally, and allow them to express their anger without getting caught up in it yourself. By remaining cool-headed, you are in a position to ultimately have more control over the situation.

Respect yourself – and your customer. You should never be subjected to rude comments or insults from a customer, and if this occurs, explain you will continue the conversation when they calm down. A heated conversation rarely produces good results. In this case, get back to them later when tempers have cooled and you both can speak rationally.

Express kindness. When you answer a complaint with a calm, caring response, many customers will let go of their anger and relax quickly. Let them know you will do everything you can to find a good resolution to their problem.

Follow through.  Even if you believe your customer is being unreasonable, try to come up with an acceptable compromise. This lets them know you value their business and take them seriously. When you work on a resolution promptly, your customer is more likely to be satisfied. Delay will only cause more aggravation.

Practice forgiveness. It’s likely that an angry outburst was caused by more than the immediate problem – your customer may be upset for reasons that have nothing to do with the situation, and this problem pushed them over the edge. Forgive them and release any anger you may be feeling over the situation. Holding on to anger just hurts you. Be good to yourself and let it go.

Take it in stride. No matter how upsetting or frustrating that difficult customer was, things could be worse. Running your small business has its ups and downs, and you will run into challenges at times. Try to keep a good perspective and count your blessings.




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