Career Guide

Top 10 ways to handle difficult customers

As we all know, “Customers are always right”. It is best if we assume responsibility for the problems that our customers point out, because if one customer complains, chances are, there are others who are facing the same situation too. After you remedy the situation, make sure that this never happens again as repeat offences do not go hand in hand with retaining customers.

If customers are verbally abusive and swearing during the conversation, just take a deep breath and pretend that you did not hear anything. Later, just inform the customers how you can help them. Bring the conversation back to the issue. Always try to provide a solution and stay objective. Ignore any personal comments, as customers are just venting frustrations at you as a representative of your company.

As human beings, we all have bad days once in a while, especially in this busy world that we live in. With grumpy customers, it is best to try to stay calm and interact with them in a pleasant, calm voice, speaking politely and smiling, as this can make their day slightly better.

Always accept complaints from customers as a “gift” from them. Think of the complaints as gifts to you and your company as this is a chance to improve and fix any gaps that you may have. It is better to know what is going wrong than not being aware of the problem at all, which can then cause the loss of more customers in the future. So, whenever there is a complaint, always thank the customers for informing you about it.

No matter how loud your customers speak to you, always respond in a proper tone, and be polite while speaking. Staying calm as well as having a clear mind helps you dispel the anger and not be affected by a customer’s angry tone. This will reflect on the customers and will help them calm down.

Every customer has a different personality. Some may just want attention and some may want to be in control of things. Understanding customers’ values is one way to handle them. When a customer wants to be recognised just ask them if they have any suggestions about the issue at hand, and if customers want control, provide them with choices on how the issues could be resolved.

Whenever a customer is frustrated and is complaining about a problem, always nod and agree with what he/she is saying no matter if that person is right or wrong. There can be a rebuttal in your arguments like “Yes, I do agree with you on this matter and you are right but don’t you think...”. This way the customer will settle down and at the same time, they may consider what you say.

To have a win-win situation, there is no need to defend your own position. Try to be considerate; understand customers from their point of view and then validate by saying “Thank you for letting me know about this issue”. Nodding while talking with customers can also help calm the situation as it shows that you understand their predicament and that you are honouring their concerns.

The best way to resolve a problem is to listen to what they are really asking for and not what you think they need. Use questions like what, who, where, when and how to clarify customers’ concerns. You could also repeat customers’ complaints to show that you are aware of what they are saying. Most people become far more reasonable when they believe that they are being understood, and when they believe that their needs are being taken care of.

Always put on a smile on your face and have a friendly chat with customers whenever you first speak to them. This reduces the tensions as you have created a friendly relationship environment for them to express their feelings. Customers will then tend to inform you about their problems in a nice way, which helps you to prevent a harsh scolding. Moreover, befriending a difficult customer, and creating a relationship built on trust, may benefit the company by ensuring that they remain customers for a long time.