How To Deal With Difficult Customers

Every business owner dreads them but inevitably must deal with demanding customers. No matter how great your services or products, or how well you treat customers, you will encounter those who complain, ask for more, or even go after you online to ruin your reputation.

Whether you’re new to working with customers or have been doing it for years, it’s always helpful to reflect on how to deal with the troublemakers. By planning how to cope, you can handle a demanding customer calmly and effectively. Those difficult customers may even have a point about how your business could be better, so it’s worth listening to.

What is a Difficult Customer?

It’s not hard to imagine what a problematic customer looks like. It may be your worst nightmare as an entrepreneur or customer service professional. If you’re new to this role, though, you may not be able to conjure up all the varieties of problems that can and will come your way.

Know what a demanding customer looks like, how they behave, and what they might say before you face one in reality. It will help you be more prepared to react well. These are just a few common examples:

  • The Complainer– This type of customer amplifies a problem or perceived problem, no matter how small. You’ll struggle to satisfy them.
  • The Angry Customer– This is tough to deal with because they can become aggressive or bullied. Avoid escalating with these customers.
  • The Indecisive One– This person means well, but they drain your time as you try to sell them something.
  • The Bad Reviewer– The righteous internet vigilante loves to leave bad reviews, thinking they’re saving unassuming consumers. Some simply want to cause trouble.
  • The Demanding One– They feel entitled to your time, your energy, and any and all extra services they can get out of you.
  • The One Who Has a Point– Difficult customers are not always wrong. Learn to listen to complaints and bad reviews. Some have a valid point. Maybe you could have done better. These are not bad customers, but they are in a bad situation. Learn the distinction.

Dealing with Difficult Customers

People value excellent customer service. They return to and refer friends to businesses that provide it. To be good at customer service, you must deal with these problematic customers patiently and effectively. Here are some tips and tricks:

  • Listen to every customer with something to say. They want to be heard above all, even if their complaints are unwarranted.
  • Always remain professional and calm. As much as you may want to give them a piece of your mind, it will only make things worse.
  • Try to empathize with the customer. Put yourself in their shoes. Why do they feel this way? If you can identify with their position, you can respond more effectively.
  • Once you’ve listened and understood the issue, offer an apology and solutions. For indecisive consumers, offer one solution.
  • For angry or aggressive customers, listen and remain calm. Apologize for the problem and tell them you’re prepared to find a satisfactory solution. Often, your calmness and an apology are all it takes to de-escalate.
  • For entitled, demanding customers, do your best to meet their expectations. If you can’t, provide an option that represents a compromise.
  • Know when to walk away. You cannot deal effectively with everyone. If someone refuses to pay or is abusive to your staff, for example, you can’t win. You may even need to take legal action. Calmly explain to them what will happen next and why.

Managing Brand Reputation

Failing to deal appropriately with a challenging customer can damage your business. Brand reputation is essential to success, and it can be ruined in minutes. One disgruntled customer can leave a wide swath of bad reviews and negativity online that’s hard to eliminate. If this happens to you, consider contacting a professional brand reputation management company. They can strategize to boost your reputation. 

For instance, they can remove negative internet content from Google or boost good reviews. Sometimes the job of cleaning up after a truly bad encounter with a customer is too much. You need a professional service to make sure one or two difficult customers don’t ruin your hard work.

Patience Rules in Customer Service

Good customer service requires working with difficult people. What you need more than anything else is patience. Try to put yourself in their shoes, listen and ask questions, present solutions and options, and know when there’s nothing more you can do.