Customer Experience News & Trends

6 ways to deal with your toughest customers

If it doesn’t happen today, bet your bottom dollar that it’ll happen soon: You’ll be confronted with an angry customer. Here’s how to deal with what he or she dishes out.

Difficult customers come in a variety of titles — the Chronic Complainer, the Grump, the Know-It-All, the Always-Want-More, the Attention-Seeker and the list goes on.

They may contact you or demand a supervisor for an array of issues — most legitimate and some perceived — but the best ways to deal with them will almost always be the same, says CEO of Exposition Creative Services and business writer Tim Parker.

Keep them for tomorrow

If you handle upset or difficult customers the right way, you’ll ensure they’ll still be your customers tomorrow. Here are the best customer service techniques for handling these situations:

  • Hold your tongue. When a nasty customer bites, the natural instinct is to bite back. And guess what? That’s what an irrational customer wants from you because she’s riled up and she needs someone else in that frame of mind. Do the opposite. When her voice raises, lower yours. When she becomes rude, become kind. When she gets emotional, stay stoic and fact-driven.
  • Empathize. Sympathy means you feel sorry for the customer. Empathy means you understand how the customer feels. Show empathy — not sympathy — by saying things such as, “I can understand why you’re frustrated” or “I see what you’ve experienced.”
  • Restate the problem. The one thing almost all difficult customers want is to be heard. So after you’ve held your tongue and shown some empathy, prove that you’ve listened to what was said by repeating the problem or issue in your own words. This will allow both of you to agree on the issue at hand.
  • Ask for direction. Some upset customers aren’t exactly clear on what’s gone wrong or what they want. Ask them for some guidance on what they feel is the biggest issue (to help them narrow down the problem from a long line of rants).
  • Bend. The last thing a difficult customer wants to hear is “policy.” Sure, you should follow your policies and procedures, but you don’t have to tell customers that’s what you’re doing. You appear flexible by offering a few alternatives as a solution and allowing customers to pick which works best for them.
  • Ask for a favored solution. You might be able to fix problem sooner than you thought by asking, “What would make you happy under these circumstances?” Customers may not even want as much as you would be willing to do.

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