How To Deal With a Difficult Customer


By YEET MAGAZINE | Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT) June 5, 2021

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People are one of the hardest things about working in customer service. Whether you work in food, clothing, hospitality, sooner or later you are going to have to deal with an angry, irritated or uncontrollable customer. Have no fear, there are tried and tested methods of calming the situation in a way that benefits you, that benefits your company, but more importantly, benefits the customer. This will allow you to keep your customer happy by perpetuating the adage "the customer is king", to remain adamant about your position or simply to find a compromise.


Dealing with difficult customers


Know how to listen to him. Difficult customers don't expect perfection, but they want to know that you take their problems seriously. Pay attention and calmly listen to the customer's problem. Look him in the eye and don't smile stupidly. Nod your head when the client states a fact that you find valid .


Show empathy for the customer. Most bad customer interactions get worse because the customer feels like you aren't making an effort to understand their concerns. By communicating your empathy to the customer, you set the tone for all the interaction and you show him that you are his ally in finding a solution to his problem  [2] .

  • Tell him, “I totally understand and I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Let's find a solution together ”. By using "we", you are telling her that you are teaming up to both find a solution.
  • If the customer repeats their complaint, increase your empathy. Say something like: "this sounds incredibly frustrating" or "if you were you, I would feel exactly the same."
  • Remember that expressing your empathy does not mean that you are giving the customer everything they want. Instead of creating a confrontation between the company and the customer, it is you and the customer against the company.


Remember that other people are watching your interaction. Imagining yourself as an audience watching your conversation will help you stay calm. You don't want other customers to see that you behave badly with one of them  [3] . You should always believe that the client in question is going to tell other people about their interaction with you  [4] .

  • The way you interact with customers should never hurt the company, but it should be an example of the quality of service your company provides.


Speak slowly and lower your tone. Emotions are contagious. By lowering your tone of voice and speaking lower, you will show the client that you are in control and that you are calm. This is all the more important if the customer is very angry and talking loudly. You must not do anything that could make the situation worse  [5] .


Excuse you. Any employee can apologize, regardless of their role in the company. Make eye contact with the customer, and be sure to communicate your sincerity through your tone of voice and your gaze. Tell him that on behalf of your company, you are sorry that he is not satisfied and that you will do all you can to help him  [6] .

  • Don't be patronizing. Avoid apologizing in a way that appears to demean the customer. You should always apologize for what you have done and for what the company has done, not for how the customer feels or their behavior. For example, instead of saying, "I'm sorry you're upset, but I can't give you a refund," try saying, "I'm sorry I can't help you with a refund, there is Is there anything else I can do for you? "


Inform your supervisor. The client might ask you to do it anyway, but even if they don't, it's still a good idea. Your supervisor has more power to come to a resolution of the customer's problem, whether it is through reduction, compensation, or some other concession. In addition, it helps to shift the responsibility for customer satisfaction to someone higher up in the hierarchy, which helps the customer feel reassured.

  • If you must ask the client to wait while you go to find your supervisor, give them a comfortable place to wait. If you can offer him refreshments like water, offer to him. You will be able to calm the client down by treating them with kindness.


Only make promises you can keep. One of the worst things to do is offer a solution or make a promise that you can't keep. This will make the customer even more frustrated. If you are unsure of something, ask your supervisor. Don't make a hasty decision in the heat of the moment  [7] .

  • You can always say to the client, “it might be possible, give me a minute to check with my supervisor”.


End the interaction on a positive note. Even if you've found the solution the customer was hoping for and they continue to be pissed off, try not to let them go like this. Instead, try to express your gratitude for their patience and promise them that you will do everything you can to make their next experience okay. For example, you could say, “Thank you for your patience while we find a solution to your problem. Next time I will be happy to personally take care of your next contact with our company to make sure everything goes well, don't hesitate to ask me ”.

  • If you haven't been able to satisfy the customer, always try to create a positive memory when the customer leaves by being courteous and professional. The customer will then leave thinking: "They couldn't help me, but at least the salesperson was nice".


Know when customer behavior is enough. If the customer starts to get violent or shows signs that they don't want to calm down, call store security or 911 and ask the police to resolve the issue. If the customer makes a scene, insults you or other employees, tries to physically intimidate you, call security. You've gone as far as you can, both for your own well-being and that of your client.

  • If the client is drunk or under the influence of drugs, don't waste your time trying to reason with them. Call security directly to ensure everyone's well-being.


Put your ego aside. Be prepared to keep the customer happy even if you think they are wrong. You are going to have to be humble in front of the client or apologize for something you don't think is important. Never be too proud to do your best to keep your customers happy.

  • Think about that old adage of customer service: “the customer is always right”. This does not mean that the customer's complaint is objectively fair and correct. By handling interaction in a positive way that brings customer satisfaction, you are not humiliating yourself as an employee, you are simply trying to maintain your customer's loyalty.


See difficult customers as opportunities. Remember, happy customers allow you to see your business flourish. A satisfied customer might share their positive experience with other people, but a dissatisfied customer will likely tell others. This means less income for your business. As you try to calm your client's nerves, see this interaction as an opportunity to retain a future client that you would otherwise lose.


Don't take complaints personally. Remember that whatever happens, it has nothing to do with who you are as a person. Customer complaints should never be taken as personal insults, even if the customer insults you personally. Put aside your pride and desire to promote your ego to the customer experience. While it can be tempting to want to prove to the customer that you are right and that they are wrong, resist  [8] .

  • Difficult customers are a part of customer service. See these kinds of situations as a normal part of your job  [9] .


Deal with certain types of difficult customers


Know how to deal with an angry customer. Angry customers are all the more difficult. You will have to sort through their emotions to find the source of their problem. Stay positive throughout the interaction, know how to recognize your client's feelings and show them that you are ready to help them by working together to find a solution  [10] .

  • Tell your client, “I know you are upset and I would love to help you. Can you explain to me what is going on? "Never tell him:" there is no reason to be upset "  [11] .
  • Stay calm and objective throughout the interaction. Don't make a promise you can't keep. Tell her that you'll do your best to find a quick fix instead of promising her that it can be done within a certain period of time. The best thing is not to promise too much, but to always do more  [12] .
  • Avoid interrupting the customer when they are explaining something to you, this will make them even more agitated. Never say "yes, but ..." while the client is speaking.
  • Always remember to follow up with the customer to be sure they are happy with the outcome.


Satisfy dissatisfied customers. You might come across a dissatisfied client who has had a negative experience with one of the representatives of the company you work for. For example, you might be a supervisor in a restaurant and find yourself dealing with a customer who was not satisfied with the service of one of the waiters. Greet the customer with a smile, tell them your name, and offer to help. While the customer is talking to you, make sure you don't make any excuses for the bad service they are complaining about. Ask him open-ended questions, verify the information and make a decision that will satisfy him  [13] .

  • Ask the customer to explain to you what happened.
  • Continuing with the restaurant example, after the customer has explained their problem, try saying, “I understand what you are saying, anyone in the same situation would feel the same. We can offer you the following solution: _____. What do you think ? "


Help an undecided customer. Some customers find it difficult to make the decision to buy a product. These clients can be very time consuming and prevent you from helping other clients. Be patient, ask open-ended questions, listen to them, offer them alternatives and try to guide them to make the right decision  [14] .

  • Try to gather as much information as possible so that you can help the client make a decision.
  • Many stores offer a refund or exchange of products. If the customer was hesitant between two different products, you could say: "if you find that X doesn't do the job, you can bring it back within 30 days". This encourages the customer to make the purchase.


Know how to manage an authoritarian client. Some clients can be very pushy and bossy. You need to find a balance between being courteous and not letting the customer step all over you. Be professional, show respect to the customer, be firm and fair, and let the customer know what you are willing to do to satisfy them  [15] .

  • Be prepared for the customer to raise their voice or call you names.
  • Always look the customer in the eye, apologize if necessary, and remind the customer that their needs are important to you. Try to tell him, "Mr. X, we appreciate your loyalty very much and we want to find a solution." Do you have a suggestion? "
  • If the customer suggests something you can do, tell them, "that's a great suggestion, Mr. X, and I think we're going to be able to do it this time around." If their suggestion is something you can't do, be honest with the customer. Try telling him, "Thanks for your suggestion, Mr X, but I can't do this because of the company policy." Could we try ____ instead? "
  • A good knowledge of your company and its rules can help you to negotiate with this type of customer and offer you viable solutions to their problems  [16] .


Know how to handle a rude customer or without embarrassment. These types of clients may use swear words, cut you off, or demand your attention while you are helping someone else. It is important to remain professional and never to compete with him  [17] .

  • If a customer interrupts you while you are taking care of another customer, smile and say, "I'll be yours in a minute when I'm done with this person."
  • You should always remain calm and remember to be a professional representative of your company.

6Know how to deal with talkative customers. Some customers will start talking to you and take up all of your time. They might tell you about current events, the weather, or their personal experiences. You must remain polite and courteous while remaining in control of the situation. Overly talkative customers can prevent you from doing other tasks you have to do or from interacting with other customers  [18] .

  • Show genuine interest in what the customer is telling you. You must not appear to be rude.
  • If the customer asks you a personal question, answer it and ask if there is anything else you can help.
  • Don't ask the customer any questions that might encourage them to continue the conversation. Stick to questions that he can answer yes or no.


  • Don't be patronizing. Nothing can make a situation worse than an employee who looks rude or mocking. Speak in a polite, yet sincere voice.
  • Don't let yourself be stepped on. There is a difference between helping a customer and letting a customer walk over you. Let the client know your limits early on and be polite, but firm.
  • Avoid responding until you have listened fully to what the customer is telling you and make sure you stand out from the solution to the problem. After listening, find the courage and strength to remain silent after asking in a compassionate voice the critical question: "So what do you want?" Remember that in most negotiations, the one who offers a solution first is usually the one who loses.
  • Some clients can be more difficult than others. Don't let a customer insult or touch you. Call security or a manager.
  • Call the customer by name if possible. Everyone likes to hear their name, and you might make them feel like they don't care about them by referring to them as “the customer”.
  • Make sure you only tell the truth to your supervisor, don't try to hide or belittle anything you have done. Tell your supervisor directly that you have a problem with a client, even if it's your fault. Chances are, your supervisor is happy that you got to manage it on your own.
  • Remember, the customer is always right, but only in certain situations!
  • Get help if you need it. Call your supervisor or boss if you are alone. Don't struggle on your own, you only make the situation worse.

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