Customer Experience News & Trends

5 of the most difficult customers — and how to help them

Dealing with difficult customers is one thing. Actually helping them is the ideal thing. Here’s how to make it happen with five of the most difficult customers you’ll come across. 

Many service pros agree that their job would be just about perfect if they didn’t have to work with difficult customers. But they also recognize that those customers will always be part of the customer experience landscape.

Knowing what to expect, and how to deal with them in a way that eventually helps the customers and improves the relationship with them, will make the experience better for everyone involved.

These are five of the toughest customers to work with — and solid ways to keep the situation on track so you can continue to deliver excellent customer experiences to everyone:

The Blamer

It’s never The Blamer’s fault. In fact, it’s always someone else’s fault that something went wrong. She’s quick to point the finger at you and not likely to tell the full truth when you have to trouble shoot and ask questions such as “What happened?” She won’t be accountable in any way.

Your strategy: Focus on facts. You don’t have to get her to take responsibility for an error or miscommunication, but you do need to get to the bottom of when and where something went wrong. Be specific to get times, places and actual occurrences.

For instance, “What time did you finish the inspection of our product?” “Did you follow the 10-point checklist?” “What time did the unit break down?” “Was it an immediate stop or was there a slowing before the stop?”

The Ego

He’s full of himself. He knows everything that needs to be known about your products and services, and how they should be used. He’s usually reluctant to hear your suggestions or change his mind based on your expertise because … well, he knows everything.

Your strategy: Compliment him on his deep knowledge and decision-making. Then maintain your authority on issues that matter, such as a remedy that will work best or a product that meets his specific needs.

For instance, “You’re on to something with your ideas on fixing the technical hiccup you’ve experienced. What do you think is the benefit of doing that over what I’ve suggested?”

The Victim

The Victim thinks he does nothing wrong. If something goes wrong, it’s because you have sabotaged him — sent him the wrong product, gave him bad information or slighted him otherwise. He won’t let go of a mistake that happened years ago and still blames it for any little thing that goes wrong.

Your strategy: Empathize without enabling. He believes he is victimized, so listen to the issues. Acknowledge his feelings, but stop short of validating them. Encourage him to do something along with you about the situation.

For instance, “I understand that you’re upset that we couldn’t perform maintenance over the weekend. It’d be a good idea to contact us the moment you suspect there’s a problem, rather than wait a few days. Then we can get an almost immediate fix. Now let’s work on getting it fixed in the next 24 hours.”

The Bully

Some bullies are just mean. Others are passive-aggressive, subtly trying to push you around and undermine you. Even worse, many of them don’t necessarily break rules. Instead, their toxic personalities put you on edge and create a state of unhappiness.

Your strategy: Tackle bullying straight-on. If you don’t, it’ll likely get worse. Point out behaviors that aren’t acceptable in your business, plus exact incidents. Explain consequences for the behavior.

For instance, “You shouted three times at me, insulted my abilities and have made me upset. If you shout again, I’ll end this call and explain to my supervisor what’s happened. Another incident like this, and we’ll have to part ways.”

The Waffler

The Waffler has a tough time making up her mind. She says she wants your advice on what to do, and she’ll listen to it. She’ll also listen to her inner voice. But neither seem to help her make a decision on which product to get or solution to choose. She unnecessarily will waste a lot of time.

Your strategy: When possible, try what worked in the past in a similar situation. Remind how well everything went with that product or solution, and how good she felt about it. In a more complex situation, give her all the information you can, and a deadline on a final decision. Then invite her to mull it over with trusted colleagues, friends or family members.

For instance, “Sidney, the last time you were deciding if you should update the software or upgrade, you decided on the upgrade. After it was implemented, you told me you immediately noticed fewer errors. That suggests to me that you should go with the upgrade again.” Or “I’ve given you all the specs and the order process timing. Take a few days to consult with your team and give me your final decision on Monday at 10 a.m.”

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Take a couple minutes today and simply look out onto the production floor of your contact center. Chances are pretty great that you are seeing a diverse group of people that span across several generations.  Read more!

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