7 Steps to Deal with the Difficult Customers

Let us face it – not all customers are easy to deal with. For most businesses, there is a small (hopefully!) group that tries to make it as hard as possible for your helpdesk. However, not all of them are malicious and vengeful, and you should try to win back as many of them as possible. In many cases these issues they are raising are solvable. In this post I will show some steps that you could take to tackle this group.


Top Steps to Handle Difficult Customers


1. Allow the customers to vent their feelings

Take a moment to understand their side of things and be a good listener. In most cases, the customer has a real issue and that is forcing him/her to behave unreasonably. If there is a logic, however small, in their argument respect that and solve that issue immediately. Also, in some cases, the customer would have a tougher time elsewhere and showing it on you. The moment they vent it all out, they will calm down and apologize to you.

2. Mind the cultural gap

We are living in a highly globalized marketplace and our customers could be from all over the world. This can make customer service problematic. People from Germany and Sweden could appear to be very blunt and direct, due to the nature of their language while Asians might seem beating around the bush due to the hierarchical structure of our society. These misunderstandings are mostly due to the cultural gaps. Understand the cultural background of your customer and that might remove majority of the miss-communication.

3. Train your customer service personnel to empathize

Empathy is one of the things that is most lacking in customer service issues, and once you start empathizing majority of the difficult customers will mellow down their argument. One cannot emphasize this point too much as this is the core foundation of any customer support.

4. Never lose your cool

You can be firm in dealing with the tough customers, but you should never lose your cool at any point of time. Never argue with your customers even when you know they are wrong. Patiently point them to your point, but at no point of time should your personnel get angry and take it on the customer.

5. Tailor-make the response

Never provide a generic solution. Try to get as specific as possible based on the information you collected about the customer in your CRM tools. If the customer is calling from Romania about a billing issue in their currency, don’t start providing instructions specific to your domestic customers.

Many customers are infuriated when the customer reps start giving them the same, bland, generic advice without understanding their issues. Categorizing your help-desk issues by demographic and region of customers, understanding the frequent issues in each demographic and making the solutions as tailor-made as possible is the keep to solve such issues. You must invest in a proper CRM setup for this.

6. Help the staff to develop the right attitude

In a lot of mature businesses, it is easy to see the miss the value of a single customer. But, that would be a slippery rope to take. Train your staff (from the CEO all the way to the bottom rung) to understand the value of every single customer and how important is the customer for the existence of the company and by extension, their salaries. When the staff have the right attitude that is constantly helpful, most customers would be with you when there are minor issues affecting your company – such as a server crash.

7. It is okay to lose the customer

If you have followed the previous instructions, you would have eliminated 98% (I just made the number up!) of the difficult customers. The rest is usually unreasonable customers who just want to get a free ride, or scammers who are trying to find a loophole, or customers who suffer from various psychological issues. You are not their doctor or psychotherapist. It is okay to lose those customers, especially if you are in service businesses requiring a lot of personal attention. But, don’t take the loss too personally. Nobody can satisfy the entire world.

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Balaji Viswanathan Avatar
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