5 Best Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers


A business relies their success or failure on the customers. It’s no secret that companies depend on customers more than the other way around.

Customer loyalty provides profit for businesses to survive. It increases the likelihood of repeating purchases. On the other hand, attracting and winning new customers costs 25% more than keeping current customers satisfied. Customer loyalty also comes with acquiring the best tool you have for advertising – Word of mouth.

Customers tend to tell their friends about their experience with a company. If their experience is positive, it becomes an effective way to gather more customers since consumers trust the recommendations of their family and friends more than newspaper and television placements or web-based marketing.  The best part is this type of advertising is free.

While word of mouth advertising has its upsides, if the customer is left unsatisfied, they’re more likely to gossip rather than recommend. Since negative word of mouth spreads just as quickly as a positive does, it can destroy your business. Not only will they make anti-referrals but these customers would more likely leave as well.

There are many factors why a customer leaves a company. They no longer need your offer; they’re unhappy with the price, the product or the service. The latter being one of the fastest ways to repel customers.

According to a study, 82% of customers leave a company after having a terrible experience with the customer service. That’s why it’s critical for customer service representatives to do an excellent job of taking care of customers’ needs especially when dealing with angry and fuming consumers. The challenge here is calming them down. Here are the best ways to deal with these types of customers.

5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Customers

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

1# Control Your Emotions

A loud and rude customer can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes they spout off words out of anger, and strong emotions are infectious. Letting it grind your gears would lead you to lose control of the situation. Don’t take it personally even if it feels like it is at that moment. The other person is human after all. They’re likely affected by their emotions and are just blowing off steam.

Besides, the customer is more likely mad at the situation. Not you. Approach the situation with a calm demeanor. Let go of feelings of unfairness even if you believe that you’re not at fault or the client just made a mistake.

Once you’ve engaged with a loud aggravated customer, speak in a lowered voice. Speaking in a lower tone could help you for two reasons. First, it enables you to keep your composure. It will also reflect on the customer eventually and help them settle down.

As a customer service representative, remember that your job is to help your customers. You wouldn’t be able to do it if you let the client’s mood affect you as well. It could even jeopardize your company since, according to a survey, 51% of customers immediately stop any business with a company after one negative experience.

2# Listen

An upset customer simply wants to be heard, acknowledged, and understood so let them vent out. Instead of trying to talk over or argue with them, listen to what your customers have to say.

Active listening is a helpful skill during these times. It’s an opportunity to build a rapport with your client, and they would be appreciative for taking the time to listen as it demonstrates your concern towards them carefully.

They’ll be able to notice your attentiveness through your body language. While they’re talking, remember to maintain eye contact and assume an upright position by sitting up or standing straight. Your customers would see that you’re taking their grievances seriously.

It’s also helpful if you give verbal affirmations and ask specific questions from time to time. Make sure that you’ve identified the problem correctly by repeating their concerns.

Of course, you have to avoid defensive and hostile gestures as well, like folded arms and closed fists, patronizing gestures such as smiling and excessively nodding, or doing an outright indecent act like eye-rolling as it could anger the customer further.

Read Also: 8 Effective Tips to Improve Business Communication

3# Empathize

The most important responsibility of a customer service representative is helping your customers feel better after an unpleasant experience. Once you’ve listened to their concerns, put yourself in their shoes and be empathic.

Empathetic sales reps are the ones who could produce the highest quality service encounters and experience the same level of job satisfaction.

Immediately apologize for the inconvenience. Instead of broadcasting your point and promote your product, show them that you understand their problem and that you are willing to do what you can to help.

4# Offer solutions

Addressing the customer’s concern as soon as possible prevents the situation from escalating further. It can also turn their negative experience into a positive one. Once you’ve gathered the facts, offer solutions right away to show your eagerness to solve their problem.

If you can’t bend to your customer’s wishes, directly tell them you can’t give them what they want and offer steps to improve their situation instead.

Even if resolving their issues is not included in your duties, tell them how you can help based on the information they gave you, or you can get help from someone who knows more or has more power and authority.

To make up for mistakes or issues, you can provide additional compensation such as waving service fees, discounts or offering a free trial period for a different product or service. Of course, this would only be necessary depending on the situation.

5# Keep your word

After an unpleasant experience with a customer, the last thing you want to do is to go through it all over again. But your client has given you a second chance so even if you feel like a follow- up conversation would be an unpleasant experience, deliver on your promise. These clients will even respect you if you follow through like you said you would.

Related: 5 Reasons You Need Customer Feedback

Author Garret Norris: Beginning in 1988 in Hotel Management in Dublin, Ireland, Garret worked in the hospitality industry in the UK for three years and then moved to sales and sales management, becoming the CEO of multiple multi-million dollar companies. Garret now lives and works in Australia and has become an expert in Strategic Sales, Business Coaching, Executive Coaching, Strategy planning as well as Business Growth at KONA Group. Garret has been instrumental in developing the primary building blocks of competitiveness over the past three decades. Garret remains dedicated as ever to use his training and real-life business experience to meet his passion to see the business succeed through disciplined management, creative marketing and committed client service.