Customer Experience News & Trends

9 rules for dealing with difficult customers

Most customers are reasonable human beings who treat the companies with which they do business with dignity and respect. Then there’s everyone else. 

A minority will try to manipulate you into doing what they want by making you feel nervous, uninformed or culpable.

Frustrated, angry

If you let them push you around, or if you run away from them or withdraw, you will feel frustrated, angry or depressed. When you permit them to control your actions, you abdicate self-respect and your sense of personal responsibility.

The first step

The first step in fixing the situation is to know that no one can manipulate your emotions or behavior if you don’t allow it to happen.

Follow these rules, which outline the basics of working with difficult customers:

  1. You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.
  2. You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.
  3. You have the right to judge if you’re offering reasonable solutions to customer problems.
  4. You have the right to change your mind as long as you have good reasons for doing so.
  5. You have the right to make mistakes — and be responsible for them.
  6. You have the right to say, “I don’t know.”
  7. You have the right to be independent of the influence of others when trying to do your job.
  8. You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”
  9. You have the right to turn down an unreasonable request from a customer.

Adapted from: When I Say No, I feel Guilty, by Manuel Smith, a clinical-experimental psychologist and his work has appeared in numerous professional and scientific publications, including the Journal of Experimental Psychology and Psychology.

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