Running a business

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

No matter where you go or what type of business you own or work at, you will encounter demanding customers. You may not have to deal with these types of customers in your store daily (or maybe you will, depending on your industry), but angry customers are part and parcel of doing business. 

If you are a small business owner who has had to handle difficult customers lately, it’s normal to feel discouraged. Still, it’s important to remember that it’s not always your fault in these situations. And if you’re reading this article, you are already taking steps to try and make your situation better. 

Although it may seem impossible to help these types of customers at times, there are some essential things to consider when coming across demanding customers. This article will discuss the different types of difficult customers you may encounter and the eight steps that you can take to achieve customer satisfaction.

Types of Difficult Customers

Although it is easy to assume that all difficult customers are alike, there are many types of challenging customers. Knowing how to recognize them can assist you in dealing with them. Once you can identify these various types of unhappy patrons, you will be better able to empathize with customers and why they may be acting that way.

The aggressive customer

The aggressive customer can often be found harassing or bullying employees or business. They can also quickly get angry or become arrogant and rude because they think their needs are more important than others. 

The best way you can deal with these customers is by accepting that they likely won’t care about your explanation. Try not to take their comments personally. Though their anger may be directed at you, it is not actually about you. Instead, simply apologize and try to rationalize them as much as possible without giving them too much power. 

At times, it may be possible that you need to refuse service to this customer if they are becoming too aggressive or verbally abusive. 

The complaining customer

Complaining is not always a bad or difficult thing to deal with; however, sometimes the complaints can feel excessive or overly nitpicky. That’s when your store may encounter a complaining customer. These customers are highly particular and can be draining to deal with. In addition, they have extremely high expectations, which can make the situation a stressful one.

Dealing with a complainer requires you to, again, not take it personally. The best practice is listening to them, acknowledging that you hear them, and doing your best to fix their complaints. At times, this may require requesting help from the customer on what they really want or enlisting the help of coworkers and managers to ensure the situation gets resolved.

The confused customer

When a customer is confused or indecisive, it makes it hard to accomplish things. When they purchase something, they want to be sure that it’s worth the money and precisely what they want. They will be asking many questions and might still seem unsure if they will proceed with the purchase.

The best thing to do in this situation is to keep composed and stay patient. Although it can be frustrating, these situations solve themselves as the customer eventually will decide. Try not to sound like a salesperson when outlining details to them. This can sometimes push them further out the door rather than closing a sale. 

Overall, they just want to be sure of their purchase. You can help assure them it is the right choice or suggest they leave empty-handed to sleep on their decision. Even if the encounter ends without a sale or a delayed sale, this outcome is better than having the customer feel pressured or even return angry and demanding a refund.

The impatient customer

Impatient customers can be a lot to handle. They expect things to get done faster than what’s usually possible. If they themselves lack patience, don’t disparage them. You can still successfully solve the situation, even if it takes longer than they want. 

When faced with an impatient customer, do your best to get what they need to them as soon as possible. Apologize for the delay, but provide them with a solution. Once they receive what they are looking for, they will be out the door and satisfied.

How to Deal with Angry Customers in 8 Steps

No matter the type of customer you interact with, it is essential to have a plan of action to ensure customer satisfaction is the end result of each encounter. Customer service training is always a good idea. Such training can help develop the skills of your management team and employees to improve customer interactions overall. 

Part of this training covers the way a business can handle tricky customer situations. The following tips are ones you can use when dealing with an impatient or angry customer.

1. Remain calm

Even though you are likely frustrated by the difficult customer in front of you, it’s vital to stay calm to ensure the situation does not escalate. Such negative feelings can impact the circumstances and make things worse, so it’s essential to keep things as light as possible. Keep your body language open and reassuring. Take a deep breath and remember that you have the tools and skills to deal with the situation.

2. Consider their point of view

Putting yourself in their shoes is a great way to understand why some customers are acting the way they do. Maybe they had a long day at work where everything went wrong, or they could be dealing with something in their personal life. 

Even though they shouldn’t be taking it out on you, it is always possible that they are dealing with bigger issues that could be causing them strain. Therefore, put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the situation from their point of view before jumping to any conclusions.

3. Acknowledge their plight

Understand that for the customer, this could be a triggering situation. Everyone reacts differently to various problems due to personal circumstances and past experiences. Take a moment to acknowledge their situation verbally and let the customer know you are on their side and here to support them. 

When someone feels acknowledged, they are more likely to work with you to figure out a resolution that works for everyone involved.

4. Use active listening

Active and reflective listening is a form of listening that shows you’re paying attention and showing that you’re hearing them out. Usually, you can do this by reciting back to them the idea or problem they were trying to get across to you while mirroring their word use. Remember to ask questions to prompt answers that can help you determine the best way to help them.  

Responding with active listening allows the customer to hear their own thoughts portrayed back to them. It illustrates to the perturbed customer that you are really hearing them. It also encourages them to continue the conversation politely to help you both come to a satisfying conclusion.

5. Empathize with them

Telling someone that you understand how they might be feeling and even saying you’ve been there before can be a great way to help them calm down. As a manager, it is important to show empathy towards patrons as it illustrates that someone is on their side and knows what they are going through. If they believe that you are there to help them, they will be more likely to work with you to achieve the desired result.

6. Provide a solution

Finding a good resolution to a problem is the best way to solve any sticky situation. Sometimes this requires you to be creative if there isn’t a clear answer in sight. Either way, proposing a resolution to the customer’s issue shows them that you want to help. 

Without a solution, there can be no resolution. So consider how best to handle the customer and propose an actionable that can work. Whether that’s helping them find a substitute product or service, compromising on an exchange, or offering a refund, proposing an action can go a long way in appeasing the agitated customer.

7. Thank them for their understanding

Thanking them may feel stiff or unnecessary, but it helps to ensure that they know you care about their input. By thanking them for their understanding, you are also insinuating that they understand and empathize with you back. Even if they may not be the case, this gesture can spur them into understanding and accepting the support or solution you put forth.

8. After dealing with difficult customers, take a moment for yourself

After resolving the situation and dealing with difficult customers, it’s always good to take a step back, inhale deeply, exhale, and unwind. Take a minute to take a quick walk, have a sip of water or talk to a colleague about your experience. 

Taking a moment for yourself after a stressful encounter can help calm you down. This pause can help you get back into a good mindset for the rest of your day and prepare you for interacting with that next customer. Stepping back also gives you a bit of reflection time, so you can review what happened and consider what worked and what didn’t for future encounters. 

Managing customers and ensuring customer satisfaction can take time and energy. But managing your business finances doesn’t have to be the same. Streamline your financial management with QuickBooks accounting software so you have more time for your customers. Easily track sales and process payments to ensure your customers and your business is well looked after. Try it free today.

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