How to Deal with Difficult Customers

How to deal with difficult customers

Types of Difficult Customers

There is a wide range of difficult customer types, comparable to the various words Inuit people have for snow.

Some sources suggest there are two, five, or even nine different types of difficult customers, depending on who you ask.

Just like the diversity of human beings, business owners, entrepreneurs, and customer service staff encounter different challenging behaviors from customers.

The type of difficult customers you encounter may vary depending on your role, whether you are a manager, employee, or business owner.

Each level of responsibility brings its own set of stresses.

Difficult Customers You Will Meet

Inevitably, you will come across difficult customers throughout your professional life, just like death and taxes are certain in life.

How you respond to these customers can greatly influence the outcome of your interaction with them.

Therefore, it is essential to acquire a range of skills to adapt to different situations.

Let’s explore the various types of customers and strategies for dealing with them.

In fact, some customer behaviors can be so diverse that they deserve their own customer avatars based on those behaviors.

The Aggressive One

One type of difficult customer is the Aggressive One. This person refuses to acknowledge their own mistake.

They may not have thoroughly read the product description or fully understood its features before making a purchase.

However, now that they realize it doesn’t meet their expectations, they direct their anger towards you and your staff.

They are not interested in having a discussion; they simply want to vent their frustration.

This could apply to any product, whether it’s a dishwasher, a bank loan, or a hotel reservation.

What’s crucial to recognize is their complete lack of willingness to engage in a conversation.

How to deal with the aggressive one:

To handle the aggressive customer, it is important to remember that fault is irrelevant, whether it lies with you or the customer.

It is crucial not to respond to their anger with your own anger. Instead, ignore any offensive language and allow them to vent their frustration until they calm down.

Once they have deflated, remain calm and polite, and inquire about how you can resolve the situation.

If it involves a refund and the loss of an aggressive client, it may be necessary to cut ties with them and move on.

Dealing with Different Customer Personalities

1. The Customer in Urgent Need

This individual has had negative experiences in the past and believes their needs outweigh those of others.

They may try to skip queues or demand faster service online.

To handle this type of customer, it is crucial to provide a prompt response.

However, if necessary, you can refer them to a colleague or implement a support ticket system to maintain some distance and anonymity.

2. The Customer Who Thinks They Know Better

There is always someone who believes they could manage your business more effectively than you do.

They often begin their sentences with phrases like “Don’t you know how to…”

Despite your efforts to guide them towards a suitable product or service, they will insist on their own knowledge and even point out supposed flaws in your understanding and your competitors’ approaches.

When dealing with such customers, it’s important to recognize that their ego is their top priority. They crave admiration and seek validation for their expertise.

To address their mindset, challenge their preconceptions.

Just as the font Comic Sans is outdated and unprofessional, there may be aspects in their choices or preferences that need to be pointed out.

However, follow this up by presenting an alternative product that aligns better with their professional status and explain why it suits them.

According to a Harvard Business Review report, salespeople who challenge their customers are more likely to make successful sales, surpassing those who simply focus on building relationships.

The key is to combine the challenge with an assertion that supports their belief in their own value and expertise.

3. The Individual Who Constantly Finds Faults

This person has a keen eye for every imperfection, whether it’s a speck on a glass, a stain on the carpet, or a crack on a product’s screen.

It’s not exactly pleasant to have them around.

Strategies for Dealing with Negative Individuals:

1. Don’t bother trying too hard.
2. Accept that there’s no way to please this customer.
3. Offer sincere apologies for any shortcomings, whether it’s your product, service, or even the day of the week.
4. Avoid providing excuses or explanations.
5. Focus on quickly resolving their issues without engaging in a lengthy discussion.
6. Allow them to leave with the impression that they are right and acknowledged.

4. The Silent Dissenter

If you’ve ever worked with a team, chances are you’ve encountered someone like this person. They avoid complaining directly and instead remain quiet and demure.

They hesitate to express their needs, fearing they may come across as demanding.

The more you try to get a clear answer from them, the more they squirm uncomfortably.

Strategies for Dealing with Reserved Individuals:

1. Embrace the need for constant questioning.
2. Break down their needs into smaller parts if they won’t be explicit.
3. Offer choices and ask specific questions to guide their decision-making process.
4. Provide information on the pros and cons of each option to help them make an informed choice.
5. Educate them about the final product to minimize the chances of dissatisfaction.

Managing Challenging Customers

Why not just gather them all up and toss them into a lake? It may be tempting to avoid the hassle of dealing with difficult individuals, but consider the following:

• It takes 12 positive experiences to outweigh a single negative one on average.
• Negative stories about customer service are more likely to be shared than positive ones.
• Acquiring a new customer is approximately seven times more costly than retaining an existing one.
• A majority of people prefer trying a new service if they believe it offers better customer service.

These points highlight the significant impact of creating positive customer experiences on your business’s success.

Now let’s discuss effective strategies for managing these challenging customers without bringing home a headache and starting an argument with your partner.

If you’re a freelancer or small business owner directly involved with customers, you have more control over how you handle them.

Here’s an unexpected approach that can be effective: consider parting ways with your most difficult customers, especially if they contribute minimally to your income.

This may not be the conventional advice for dealing with people, but it’s worth considering.

By doing so, you can focus on providing exceptional service to those customers who truly value your offerings.

Top 10 Key Insights

Although the concept of the 10 Commandments may be well-known, not every rule is applicable to every individual.

Hence, it is advisable to consider how these 10 fundamental points can be tailored to suit your specific circumstances.

This is why they are referred to as the 10 Recommendations.

The 10 Recommendations

1. Proactively educate your customers about their product choices before any interaction takes place. Offer comprehensive information and an FAQ section to ensure they understand their purchase and how to optimize its usage.

2. Reject the notion that the Customer is Always Right. We acknowledge that they can be mistaken, and sometimes they are aware of it too. Instead, concentrate on resolving the issue at hand and disregard the customer’s personality.

3. Remain composed before responding. Take a moment to pause and breathe, detaching yourself emotionally from any personal reaction towards the customer.

4. Direct your focus towards resolving the issue rather than shifting blame onto the customer or your company. Take full responsibility for rectifying the situation promptly, even if it means addressing the customer’s ego.

5. Every encounter with a challenging customer presents an opportunity to educate future customers on how to avoid encountering the same issues with your product or service.

6. Display empathy towards customers by reflecting their words back to them, demonstrating your efforts to understand their perspective. This will help calm them down and prevent the situation from escalating unnecessarily.

7. Difficult customers can transform into loyal advocates when handled professionally. Therefore, it is always worthwhile to invest time in catering to their needs appropriately.

8. Swift resolution is your most valuable asset in resolving issues. The quicker you address the problem, the sooner you can disengage from a difficult customer, enhancing your professionalism in their eyes. This creates a win-win situation.

9. Always assume responsibility and refrain from attempting to shift blame.

10. Lastly, customer service is a specialized aspect of business. Investing time in acquiring knowledge and skills in providing exceptional customer care distinguishes you as a professional. Therefore, it is essential to continue learning from accomplished individuals.


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