Customer Experience News & Trends

How to deal with 4 types of difficult customers

Difficult customers – you struggle to love them, and you definitely can’t leave them. Here’s what you can do. 

Hard-to-handle customers come in all forms, but some are more common than others – and those are the types you need to be prepared to deal with most.

Once you recognize the personality you’re dealing with, you can respond appropriately.

The Bully

Personality: This is the same guy who used to torment everyone in the schoolyard. He just grew up, got a job and continues to intimidate people with his raised voice and menacing ways.

Your response: Focus on changing the negative behavior, not The Bully. Use a positive attitude to send the message that there’s no need for The Bully to revert to his bullying tactics.

The Complainer

Personality: This customer is never satisfied. No matter what you do to meet or exceed expectations, she’ll find something to complain about: It could’ve been done faster. I thought you were going to do maintenance, too. It’s not what I expected.

Your response: Nothing will stop The Complainer from complaining. Listen, but don’t overreact. If she’s out of line, tell her politely, but firmly.

The Know-It-All

Personality: This customer has all the answers before the questions are even asked! That’s whether they’re your questions or his, too.

Your response: Listen and avoid arguing. If The Know-It-All is seriously wrong about a fact that will impede an order, hurt the relationship or jeopardize safety, point it out. Otherwise, let him go on about minor points that mean little or nothing.

The Nag

Personality: The Nag constantly emails, calls or texts to “just check in” or “inquire about the status.” He’s worried he won’t get exactly what he wants (and perhaps has a little too much time on his hands), so he won’t let it go.

Your response: To ease his worries – and hopefully his over-the-top contact – schedule as much follow up and written confirmation as possible. Regular emails and texts (you can write them in batches and schedule their sends) will help.


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