10 Do's and Don'ts When Dealing with Difficult Customers

Difficult customers come in all shapes and sizes.

You have:

> The angry ones, the linguistically colourful on a mission, to make you break a sweat.
> The talkative ones, more pleasant but hog your time. They can't wait to tell you about how their dogs birthday was.
> The demanding ones. Eager for a freebie. They ain't stopping until they get what they've come for.
> And most commonly, the impatient ones. Needing a quick fix. Time is money at the end of the day.

These demanding customers will all pop up at both contact and call centers across all industries - they are unavoidable. If we're honest, most of us have been one or all of the above at one point or another.

Dealing with difficult customers is never easy so to help, here are the Do's and Don'ts for when you come across them.

5 Don'ts

5 donts

Don't Take it Personally

Angry customers are always going to exist. If you let them get under your skin, it's not going to end well.

Just remember, they're not angry at you personally. Staying calm and collected is a must, so having a handy stress ball by your side is always recommended.

Don't Try to Argue

You won't win, well you might until they stick a terrible review online. Never, Never get angry and argue back.

Take an approach of controlling hostility and managing it, rather than questioning the customer's stance. Giving as good as you get will only make matters worse and could potentially damage the company's reputation.

What's that saying? Oh yeah, the customer is always right, (even when they're wrong). You can explain why something has happened the way it has, but be careful not to overstep the line and give the customer another reason to be angry.

Don't Ask Questions the Customer has Already Answered

Don't ask questions that the customer has already answered themselves. Angry customers should not be poked with a hypothetical stick. You're asking for an outcry of fury.

Asking relevant questions will calm a difficult customer down. Things will become conversational, turning a problematic customer into a relatively happy one.

Don't Be The Bearer of Bad News all at Once

If bad news is thrown at customers all at once, it only creates a furious response, so baby steps should be encouraged.

Break bad news in stages, allowing the customer to digest it slowly and respond to every concern sensitively.

You also don't want them to miss a vital piece of information because they were focusing on something else you've told them.

Don't Overuse the Word 'WHY?'

Sounding like a petulant child is never a good look for customer service, so repeatedly asking why is only going to further wind the customer up.

Asking why something went wrong is basically shooting yourself in the foot. Imagine, "Why didn't you receive the invoice on time?". "Well, you didn't send it to me on time." It isn't constructive and digs you into a further hole.

After all, the agent is there to answer the why's, not ask them! Thankfully in the world of customer service, we have the four Ws: who, what, where, and when.

These can be used instead to help get to the bottom of problems, instead of sounding like a Tom Jones record.

5 Do's

5 dos

Do Be Respectful

Remember, they are still the customer. Sounds simple, but with the constant ray of verbal violence being hurdled towards you, it is quickly forgotten.

Remaining as polite with a problematic customer as you would a regular customer is vital.

As long as you treat them with respect, they won't have another reason to get angry!

Do Ask Questions

Asking questions shows that you're invested in the conversation and paying attention. Customers will appreciate the amount of effort you are taking to solve their problem.

More importantly, asking questions can also be used as a stalling technique to give you more time to deal with the problem - just remember not to repeat yourself!

Do Go the Extra Mile

Solving a problem is not the end of dealing with an upset customer. There will still be a sour taste in the customer's mouth, especially if it's been an on going nightmare of an experience.

Offering an unexpected gift or discount to make up for an error will ensure that any slip-ups do not cause lasting damage to your companies reputation.

Your agents are there to deal with unhappy customers, so give them the authority they need to help make them happy!

Do Be Efficient

The more aggressive customers should be viewed as a ticking time bomb and don't want them to go off. Reacting quickly to solving problems will calm them down and prevent a mass explosion.

With more talkative customers, there is a fine line between being efficient and rude. Saying "I hope we have helped you with your call today, do you require any further assistance?", is a perfect way to end a call. Keep it work-related and avoid going off on a tangent.

Most Importantly, Be Polite and Show Empathy

Sometimes Customers are rude and disrespectful and it is tempting to respond in the same way, but you don't know what other things have happened to cause the customer to behave in that way.

I'm offering no excuses for rude customers but before being unhelpful and then slagging them off to your colleague Steve, remember it could easily be you on the other end of the phone.

Be professional, Polite, empathetic and show them the care and attention that every customer deserves because it could easily be you at the other end of the line.

The Wrap-Up

Difficult customers are just part of the territory, and they'll always be present. Even when a problem is solved, as a company, it's important to check if the customer received excellent service.

Getting feedback from customers after the service, you can see if standards have been met by all customers (especially the difficult ones).

Cxceed allows you to monitor customer feedback through surveys to lock down the direct problems which come from dealing with customers. Problems which can be worked on through training to make sure excellent customer service is delivered.

What's the most demanding customer you have had to deal with, and how did you manage the situation? Let us know with a comment below!

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