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11 Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers

11 Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers

Many times, customers will be really upset or angry with the service and it will be difficult to handle them.

But if you know what to say, when to say and how to say it, then it will be easy for you to handle such situations.

And if done the right way, you might not only save the relationship but also build a better rapport with the customers.

You need trained people who can deal with difficult customers and can resolve customer issues quickly.

Here are different ways that you can follow to deal with difficult customers and enhance the quality of customer service along with it.

11 ways to deal with difficult customers

8 Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers

1. Listen to customers 

When customers are angry or upset, then never try to argue with the customer or try to talk over them.

Let customers speak their hearts out and do not interrupt them, even if you know what they would say next.

And even if they do not have all the information or are mistaken, then also never correct them while they are speaking.

When you listen, it shows that you care and builds a rapport with the customers.

Example

Learn to acquire the skills of reflective listening – and try to interpret everything they say. 

Let’s imagine that the customer says, “I feel frustrated because I am not getting any discount from you, and the price is not matching my budget.”

The ideal response should be, “I hear you. So can we say that our pricing is creating a barrier for your organization?”

Maintain the right tone and approach while saying this – and it will make the customer realize that you’re trying to find a solution.  

But don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, you can say, “Can you share more details so I can understand better?”

2. Be empathetic towards customers

Be empathetic towards customers

You must put yourself into your customer’s shoes.

The reason behind it is to understand the situation of the customers better. You will understand what position are they in right now and the reason for such frustration.

If you understand the issue of the customer, then it will be easy for you to calm the customer and provide him with a better solution. 

Also, it will be easy for you to handle difficult customers better.

Example

Using empathy statements during your conversations can make a world of difference to a conversation. It assures your customer that you’re trying to put yourself in their shoes. 

Examples of empathy statements are:

“I can understand how that might be difficult.” 

“I wish I could make it better.”

“I’m sorry you had to face this.”

These simple words can tell the customer that you are not just offering textbook solutions to them but are willing to provide answers specific to their issues.

3. Remain calm  

Customer service should remain calm, even if the customer is swearing or being verbally abusive. You need to train yourself and practice to ignore and act as if you didn’t hear it.

If you are trying to be nice and respond in a good way, then it will totally backfire and might escalate the situation in a negative direction.

Instead, remind the customer that you are there to help them and their best immediate chance of resolving the situation – often this simple statement will help defuse the situation.

Example

Customers who will call and show their anger are common. They may even threaten you. 

Keep calm and understand that they are agitated. Do not lose your cool or composure.

Instead, respond with an assuring statement like, “I apologize for XYZ. I truly want to help you. Kindly bear with me for a little more so that I can troubleshoot this.”

Here, XYZ should specify the problem, like receiving the wrong product or not receiving the product on time.

4. Lower your voice

Lower your voice

When customers are upset or angry, their tone will get louder and in that particular situation, you need to start speaking more slowly and in a lower tone.

As a result, customers will also feel the need to remain calm and your calm demeanor will help them to settle down.

When you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer’s tone or volume, anger will generally dissipate.

Example

It is possible for you to come across a customer who may abuse or threaten you. Do not raise your voice in that case. 

You can respond with the silent treatment. 

You can assure them by saying, “I’m going to escalate the issue to someone specializing in this.” Then transfer the call to higher authorities. 

Further, you can calmly explain, “I’m sorry, but I will have to terminate the call if you continue to abuse or threaten me.” 

If all else fails, politely inform the customer that you will not be able to help them any further and that you’re going to disconnect the call. 

5. Never take it personally

Never get personal with customers, even if the customer does.

Remember that you always talk about the issue and nothing else.

You must understand that customers are unhappy with your product or service and it is common for them to be upset or angry. And when they are being angry with you, they are actually taking you as a representative of your company and not yourself.

It is advised that you guide the conversation back to the issue and how you intend to resolve it and try to ignore personal comments.

Example

An angry and frustrated customer with no solution at hand will likely abuse you and your position. 

They may say things like, “Stop giving stupid responses,” or, “Are you dumb? Why can’t you help me?”

Remember that this customer doesn’t know you personally, and they are just projecting their anger. 

Try to calm the customer down by saying, “I would also be upset if I were you. Believe me: I want to help you.”

6. Remember that you’re talking with a human

Remember that you're talking with a human

Everyone has bad days.

They might have a fight with their spouse, got a traffic ticket that morning, or have had a run of bad luck.

We’ve all been there, to some degree. Try to help make their day better by being a pleasant, calming voice – it’ll make you feel good too.

Example

Don’t give customers generic responses to all customers. 

Instead, personalize your communications with individual customers. That’s what sets you apart from a chatbot or voicebot. Try to cheer them up if possible.

Use the customer’s name, and be specific in addressing the problem, e.g., “I understand you, Mr. Heck. I will arrange for a replacement for the wrong book you received. I hope you enjoy your holiday.”

7. Know when to give in

If not satisfying the customer is going to take two hours and a bottle of aspirin and risk negative referrals, it is probably better to draw a compromise a bit more in their favor to give you more time to nurture your more productive customer relationships.

Keep in mind that the interaction is not typical of most customers and that you’re dealing with an exception.

Example 

You may reach an impasse or have no solution to offer during your conversation with a demanding customer. 

Try to take a step ahead from your position and offer some form of compensation, like, “I would like to offer a gift card worth XYZ as a token of appreciation for your patience.”

Sometimes, such solutions might be the only way to calm the customer. 

8. Follow up with customers 

Follow up with customers

Even if you promised an update that you don’t have yet, call the customer at the scheduled time anyway.

The customer will be reassured to know that you were not trying to dodge them and will appreciate the follow-up.

It shows that you care for the customers and they will be more appreciative of the efforts you are putting in to resolve their issue.

Example

If your customer has a complex problem, give your customer your contingency plan – and set up follow-up appointment dates accordingly. 

This will allow you to talk to the experts and find the right solution. 

Even if you have not found a solution within the stipulated time, don’t miss the follow-up call – just to explain your next steps. 

9. Emphasize the priority of the case

One of the reasons your customer might be agitated is that they feel like their problem is not getting prioritized. 

The only way out of this is by highlighting the priority of the case. Once you make the customer feel valued, it will encourage the most demanding customers to calm down. 

Your customers must always think that they are vital for the business. 

Example: 

When there are thousands of queries to handle every day, it is challenging but crucial to let your customer know about their importance. 

One way to do so is by giving an immediate solution. Putting the customer on hold for too long or asking for a follow-up appointment might seem like an excuse to avoid the issue. 

Explain patiently that you need to put the call on hold to troubleshoot the problem as soon as possible – and make sure to keep the promise. 

If needed, escalate the issue immediately and pass the call on to the higher authorities.  

10. Break a big problem down into smaller portions

Break a big problem down into smaller portions

When a customer is difficult to handle, it’s likely they have a complicated issue at hand. To slay the problem, it’s best to break it down into manageable chunks. 

Then, take smaller steps to tackle the problem. The plus side of handling an issue in this way is that you will have a clear plan to share with your agitated customer. 

Explain the steps you’re going to take to the customer to gain their trust. 

Example: 

Your customer is unable to use the software they purchased from your company. 

You can refer to all the frequently asked questions to find out what the problem might be. 

Find out how they are setting up the account, whether they are clearing the cache before using the software, logging in correctly every time, renewing their subscription on time, etc.

You can provide step-by-step solutions to each of these problems. Or you can speak to the specialist on your team for a solution. 

11. Be genuine and kind in every response. 

Whether it’s an apology or a promise to follow up with a solution – your response should be honest. 

Your sincerity should reflect not only in your words but also in your attitude and tone. Customers, especially the angry ones, are great at recognizing sarcasm, patronization, and fake promises. 

Example:

When your customer calls you with a problem, assume that they are beginners. If you recognize user errors, handle the issue in a gentle manner and provide guidance. 

Do not judge or assume that the user should know how to tackle the issue. 

Remember that user-friendliness of a product/service and user guidance are the responsibilities of the company. 

Impolite and hollow gestures can reflect in the angry reviews about post-sales services.

Conclusion

Dealing with difficult customers is a difficult task.

But if you handled it properly, then not only you can improve your relationship but also create further opportunities.

Make sure you listen to customers patiently and do not get carried away to provide a solution to the problem right away.

Be empathetic and understanding towards your customer and make sure tone indicates that.

If you are not sure what will be the best solution to the problem, then ask clients what solution would make them happy.

And if you can, provide a solution as soon as possible. Follow up with customers to provide them with the best solution.

FAQs

How to deal with difficult customers on the phone?

Dealing with difficult customers on the phone is a skill set.

It requires that you be assertive, empathetic, and knowledgeable.

It involves knowing what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and then how to end the call.

How to respond to an angry customer?

The best way to handle an angry customer is to acknowledge their frustration, and that you hear what they are saying.

This works even if you think they are wrong or unreasonable.

It just acknowledges the problem and that it will be addressed.

What to say to an angry customer?

We’re going to get straight to the point: getting angry customers can be one of the most challenging parts of your job.

If a customer is shouting and swearing at you, it can be hard to stay calm, remain professional, and think clearly.

Often, an angry customer is like a fighter jet pilot – they’re at their best when they’re mad.

They’ve pushed all their emotion and frustration into one instrument, which gives them laser-like focus.

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