You may provide excellent customer service but having difficult customers is inevitable. That’s why it is crucial to have a team tasked with managing difficult customers and conflicts.
Difficult customers are everywhere. They include everyone from your boss to the person who always has something negative to say about your work, but they can also be a customer that repeatedly returns their purchases with problems or even gets angry at you for no reason.
The saying that customers are always right does not mean they are easy to deal with. You have to understand them and find ways to deal with difficult situations in order to be in business with them.
The good news is that there are many strategies and tactics you can use in managing difficult customers so that they don’t become too much of an issue for you or your business. Here are some tips for managing difficult customers effectively:
1. Ask them to be more specific.
When you’re dealing with a customer, it’s important to remember that they may not be trying to be difficult. Sometimes people just need more time and explanation in order to understand what is going on.
It can be helpful to ask them:
- To explain their problem
- To give examples of how this problem has affected them (or others) in the past or present
- For clarification on what they mean by “problem” or “issue”. Do they mean an issue with our service? Or do they mean something else entirely?
2. Be professional and smile.
- Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Smiling is one of the most powerful ways to show your customers that you are happy to serve them and make them feel welcome in your store.
- Be polite and respectful when dealing with difficult customers. Even if they are rude or disruptive, treat them with respect and dignity, even if it means ignoring the rude behavior and trying to have a positive interaction instead.
- Be positive and upbeat when managing difficult customers so that no matter how bad things get (and they will), your attitude remains positive throughout all interactions with these types of people.
If someone makes an offensive comment about race or gender while speaking directly at you during a transaction at work/school/etc., don’t respond by saying something negative back; instead, respond calmly but assertively.
3. Be patient and reassuring.
When managing difficult customers, don’t get defensive or aggressive—it will only make things worse for both of you. You must also avoid being too passive or too emotional, but that’ll only cause more problems in the long run (and probably undermine your authority as a business owner).
4. Take notes while they are speaking.
One of the best ways when managing difficult customers is by writing notes. You can do this during a call or email, but it’s even better if you can get them on the phone and write it down.
- The customer’s name (and any other relevant information)
- The date and time of their call
Write in shorthand if necessary: The goal here is not only to remember details but also to make sure that your notes are clear enough for someone else to understand what happened during your conversation with them.
5. Don’t interrupt.
When managing difficult customers, don’t interrupt their story.
Don’t interrupt to offer a solution, unless it’s really important that you do so, in which case make sure it’s relevant and helpful for both parties (and not just you).
Don’t interrupt because you need to correct something they’ve said or done that isn’t true—you can say this later at your next meeting with them when they’ve calmed down a little bit more and are ready to listen again.
And finally: don’t get defensive when someone is being difficult; try instead to stay calm so as not to escalate things further than necessary!
6. Listen actively.
Listening is the most important part of managing difficult customers. Whether you are speaking or listening, make sure that others can easily hear what you have to say. The most common mistake people make when they speak is not listening enough.
When someone speaks, try to understand what it is that they really mean by their words and make sure your response reflects this understanding accurately.
Listen for emotions, not just words – Listen for meaning rather than just the literal meaning of what was said (words).
7. Be understanding and show empathy, even if they are being unreasonable.
The most important thing to remember when managing difficult customers is that they are often not bad people, but just have an issue that needs solving. You can help them by understanding their situation and being empathetic towards them.
Empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and thinking about things from their perspective; it also means showing empathy for others’ feelings rather than just saying “I don’t agree with you.”
If you can show empathy toward your customers’ emotions, then it will make them more likely to listen to what you have to say and work towards a solution together.
8. Don’t take their anger personally.
When managing difficult customers, it’s easy to take their anger personally. It can feel like they’re blaming you for everything that’s wrong in their life. But the truth is that they are not really angry at you—they’re just frustrated and upset about the situation.
To help your customers resolve their issues, try these strategies:
- Don’t take their anger personally: Treating someone who’s angry or frustrated as if they were mad at “you” will only make things worse. Instead of trying to fix what’s wrong in their eyes (and yours), focus on helping them find solutions instead of being defensive yourself.
- Explain why what happened was not your fault: Customers often have no idea how to resolve conflicts with other people; sometimes all it takes is explaining why something happened so that we can move forward together as friends instead of enemies.
9. Don’t make false promises
When managing difficult customers, you should not make promises you cannot or don’t intend to keep in a bid to get them off the phone or off your back. If you promise to call back, call back at the scheduled time. Do not give the customer the impression that you are trying to dodge them.
10. Know when to end the conversation.
- When you’re speaking with a customer and they’re not offering any more information, it’s time to wrap up the conversation. If they continue asking questions and making demands, that’s a sign that they want more information or want an exchange in value for their money. If this happens repeatedly during your interactions with customers (or if it seems like all of your interactions are similar), try ending the conversation early by reiterating what was discussed previously: “I appreciate your feedback! I’m happy we were able to help.”
- Offer refunds or exchanges when necessary.
If a customer doesn’t seem satisfied with their purchase once it arrives at home, consider offering them an exchange or refund as soon as possible after delivery—even if this means giving up some extra time at work so someone else can handle shipping duties until then!
It may seem like common sense but many businesses overlook this important step due simply because it seems too small compared with other aspects of running business operations successfully.
11. Follow up with a written response or action plan afterwards.
If you have trouble communicating with someone, it’s important to follow up on your request. Make sure you are clear about what you are asking them to do and when they can expect it back from you. Also, make sure that the tone of your email or letter is professional and friendly—this will help them feel more comfortable giving their input.
Be specific about how much time they need to complete the request: If possible, give specific deadlines in case there are delays in completing work but also note any potential risks involved (such as costs). If those deadlines don’t align with the person’s schedule, try again later on when things might be more flexible for both parties involved!
Assume that all your customers are watching!
Assume that all your customers are watching because one unsatisfied customer can have a ripple effect of negative referrals and bad reviews for your brand. When managing difficult customers, you have to assume that as they interact with other potential customers, they will repeat the conversation with them
You can get through challenging customer interactions with the right strategies and attitude
You have to remember that you are interacting with humans, you are only human and you will make mistakes. The most successful people in the world share one key trait: they know how to forgive themselves when things go wrong and move on with a positive attitude. You can easily learn this skill by practicing it over and over again (or at least until it becomes second nature).
We hope these tips will help you manage difficult customers or clients.
If you want to know more about customer relations and management, we recommend reading our other blog posts on this topic: