Customer Experience News & Trends

How to handle your 5 toughest customers

Even the toughest customers play an important role in your company’s success. Here’s what makes them good and bad, plus how you can navigate the love-hate relationship. 

You’ll always have these five tough customers. They aren’t ideal to work with, and it might be more difficult to make their experience great.

But what makes them difficult can also help your company improve its overall customer experience. So the experience evolves for all customers over time.

Be ready to work with:

The Reformers

They’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong because they want you to change it now.

The pro: They don’t tend to just complaint. They give actionable feedback. They point out problems or potential issues you might not see because you’re knee-deep in the action.

The con: If you don’t heed their feedback, and take some sort of action, they’ll dump you.

The approach: Listen to their concerns and complaints. Tell them what you’ll do with it and when. Even if you can’t act on it, letting them know the legitimate reason why you can’t change something still proves that you listen and are interested in their feedback.

The Loyalists

They are easy to please and forgive mistakes. They’ll recommend you to others and stick by your brand.

The pro: You can do little wrong in their eyes. They aren’t as critical as most customers.

The con: You’d think that there’s no drawback to working with Loyalists, but they’re so easy-going they don’t give enough feedback. Plus, they won’t challenge you to become innovative and create a better customer experience.

The approach: You have to work harder to get candid feedback from them. Ask them, “What’s one thing that could’ve gone better?” Invite them to be part of customer forums where more negative customers (such as The Reformers) might bring up something that does bother them and eventually get them to open up about it.

The Pampered

They’re used to getting what they want — and more, when they can swing it.

The pro: You can delight them by throwing in something extra, even if it’s inexpensive or free. A little extra time, product or attention can go a long way.

The con: Their expectations rise constantly. If you gave them 2% more last time, they’ll expect 4% more next time.

The approach: Yes, you have to draw the line somewhere (before you give away the farm). But don’t be afraid to tell them when you’re doing something out of the ordinary for them. Just knowing they’re getting something different or more than others keeps them satisfied. And because their customer service standards are always on the rise, you can use them as a gauge for what you might try next to improve the experience for everyone.

The Social Screamers

They’re active on social media – yours, theirs and the industry’s. They spread the word quickly on what they like and don’t like

The pro: If they’re happy, their praise is powerful marketing for you.

The con: If they’re unhappy, their rants and bad-mouthing could be harmful to you.

The approach: Give them direct outlets to complain and get their issues resolved. Interact with them in social media before things go wrong. Invite them to take issues offline if they’re complex or emotional. Keep your contact information easy to find so they can find someone before they turn to social media.

The Bottom Liners

They come to you for the deals. They go somewhere else for a better deal.

The pro: You can get and keep them with the lowest prices. They’ll stay around as long as you’re the best deal in town.

The con: They’ll easily be torn away by a better deal from the competition. They aren’t loyal and aren’t afraid to threaten to leave if they don’t get a better deal from you.

The approach: Try to persuade them toward loyalty and rewards programs. Emphasize the value for their dollar. While your product may be a higher price than elsewhere, the level of service and quality behind the product are superior — and it can help to explain that to them.

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