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Dealing With Difficult Customers: The Basics

Dealing With Difficult Customers: The Basics

Jodith Allen | Administrative Arts

The dreaded difficult customer — you know them as soon as they walk in the door. It’s in their stance, the look on their face, their tone of voice and general body language. The arrival of a difficult customer, though, does not have to spoil your whole day. There are ways to deal with difficult customers that can not only diffuse their anger, but make them happy return customers who regularly sing your praises.

Entire books have been written about how to deal with difficult customers, and I obviously am not going to write a book here (and you don’t want to read a book). So, here are some basic tips for dealing with difficult customers.

Don’t Argue

Even if you’re right, you can’t win. When a person is angry, you can’t reach them with reason. You must first defuse the anger, then you can reason with the customer. Which brings us to…

Defuse the Anger

There are various ways to defuse anger in a person, and I’ll go more in-depth on those techniques in a later post. For now, let me leave you with a few tips for defusing anger:

  • * Don’t get angry yourself. Angry energy builds on angry energy. If you start getting angry or defensive, you’ll just make the already angry customer angrier.

  • * Listen! Listen to the customer, listen to their complaint. You can’t understand or empathize if you don’t listen to what the problem is.

  • * Empathize. Understand the pain of the customer. Not just the fact that their product didn’t work, but what that customer endured when it happened.

  • * Apologize. You may have been told never apologize because it could be construed as admitting guilt. But the truth is, what most difficult customers want is an apology. Just saying, “I’m really sorry you’ve had so much trouble,” can go a long way towards defusing the customer’s anger.


Resolve the Issue

After apologizing, the most important thing you’ll do for the customer is resolve the issue. If you can’t resolve it, then find someone who can. If you have to make some calls, let the customer know that, and let them know when you’ll contact them back. And then follow through on-time! Even if you don’t have the answer yet, let them know you haven’t forgotten and you’re working on it.

Dealing with difficult customers doesn’t have to spoil your whole day. Take one thing at a time, calm the customer down, listen, and resolve the issue. Your angry customer will leave with a smile on their face.


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