Best Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers

Tired of dealing with demanding customers that take up your time with their complaints? Read on to discover how to identify difficult customers and learn how to keep these customers happy and avoid trouble.  Your reaction is key to your company’s reputation, that's why it is important to know how to handle these situations to deliver a good experience and don’t lose any customers. 

The 7 Types of Difficult Customers and How to Deal with Them

The first step toward helping customers is to understand them. To that end, here are the most common types of difficult customers that your business may face:

1. The Angry Customer

Customers get angry for a variety of reasons, but the main cause is feeling ignored in the sales process. The customer feels that no one cares about their needs, and no one is willing to do what it takes to satisfy them. The best way to deal with an angry customer is to understand why they are angry. Understanding gives you the chance to solve their problem rather than defend yourself from their anger.

That said, some customers are angry for reasons out of your control. If at any point you feel like the customer may become violent, then you have a responsibility to protect everyone at your business by getting rid of the customer in the safest way possible.

2. The Impatient Customer

Impatient customers are those who want things right away. They don’t want to wait in line or go through a sales process. Rather, they want their needs met at that very moment. When dealing with impatient customers, you must be careful not to appear too pushy. 

Instead, focus on meeting the customer’s needs while maintaining a high level of professionalism. It may also help to educate them about your policies by telling them the company’s average response time. No one enjoys waiting for someone to show up for an appointment, especially impatient and angry customers. Being late for a customer meeting could turn your best customers into difficult ones. To ensure you make a great first impression and you’re on time, you could use a route planner app. Badger Maps is a route-planning app designed specifically for field salespeople. Badger Maps users spend 20% less time driving and sell 22% more.

3. The Demanding Customer

Customers who are demanding may be very friendly and polite but have very specific requirements for what they want and how they expect those needs to be met. When dealing with demanding customers, your best course of action is to listen to what they are asking for. Be sure you fully understand their needs and desires before you proceed.

4. The Confused Customer

Confused customers are very different from angry and demanding ones. Confused customers are those who don’t understand what you’re offering them. They might not know what they want, or they might not understand what you’re selling. The best way to deal with a confused customer is to find out what they need or want. Then, try to help them to understand what you are offering.

5. The Know-It-All Customer

Know-it-all customers are probably one of the most challenging customers any small-to-medium business could face. These people think they are very knowledgeable about something, including your store policies.

Since they show off their knowledge and importance, you might feel intimidated and anxious about what they say.

It’s challenging to change their beliefs. Instead of clashing with them, compliment them for their knowledge and validate their concerns. Once you’ve validated all their issues, educate them on what you can do.

They might name-drop where they work or say they have been doing business with you for many years. You can give them room to breathe by telling them you’ll see what you can do. Don’t forget to set expectations as to when you’ll be able to resolve the concerns.

6. The Complaining Customer

Complainers will show dissatisfaction with your products or services. No matter what you do, they can find a reason to be unhappy about it. Sometimes, they do this to get discounts or something in return.

Start by listening to their complaints, validating their concerns, and suggesting some workarounds.

However, watch out for complaints that are not constructive, such as when they are complaining just to complain. You may need to ignore these complaints and focus on what you can change.

7. The Chatty Customer

Chatty customers may seem the easiest to handle but disengaging with them respectfully is the real challenge. They can take up a lot of your time as they talk to you over the phone or at your store, so try to set a time limit for yourself while answering your customer’s queries politely. If your time is up, ask them if there is anything else you can help them with. This is a great way to move to a relevant topic or end the conversation.

Check out Noah Fleming's Outside Sales Talk podcast episode to discover how to turn difficult clients into your best customers.

10 Tips on How to Succeed with Difficult Customers

The best customer retention techniques include strategies for dealing with difficult customers. Handling difficult customers effectively, can increase your customer retention rate by 5% and increase your profit by 25% to 95%, according to SmallBizGenius.

Here are 10 tips on how you can engage with demanding customers:

1. Let the Customer Vent

Some customers, especially the complainers and angry ones, want someone to listen to their problems and acknowledge them.

Letting the customer talk through their feelings can help to diffuse the situation. For instance, if they are complaining and criticizing your business, let them finish what they have to say.

After that, you can start by showing empathy. Don’t forget to apologize sincerely and provide a resolution.

This will help them feel heard and allow you and your employees to keep calm and not get emotional in return.

2. Practice Active and Reflective Listening

Active and reflective listening isn’t just about getting information from your customers and providing empathy. You need to put yourself in their shoes and understand what better service means to them.

For instance, when they ask for a discount, replying with “I understand, but…” will not do any good. Instead, hear them out and get the correct information.

If they’re asking for a discount, you can confirm what they are trying to say with, “So, are you concerned that our price is higher than you think it should be for the features provided?” Don’t give false hopes; instead, tell them what you can do and acknowledge their concerns.

Here are a few more listening techniques that can help:

  • Avoid judging or interrupting the customer – Let them finish what they have to say.
  • Make eye contact – Look the customer in the eyes and make sure that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying.

Take notes – Write down what the customer is saying, so you don’t forget the exact words they used.

3. Stay Calm in Your Tone and Body Language

If you are angry or frustrated with a customer, keep it to yourself. An angry tone or body language can escalate the situation and make the customer feel worse about the interaction. It can also destroy your relationship with that customer.

Try to keep your voice calm, slow, and steady. Customers can usually hear the anger in your voice, so be mindful of this when you’re speaking.

Try to sit or stand in a calm posture with your hands on your lap and your body turned slightly toward the customer. A pleasant expression on your face can help to calm you and avoid escalating the situation.

If you clash with your customer, the situation will just get worse. Let them talk and vent, but you should never cross the line and yell back

Listen to Mark Bowden’s Outside Sales Talk to discover how you can leverage body language for sales success!

4. Don't Take It Personally

Whatever your customers say about you, remember that those words are geared toward the company and not you. Even if they are trying to insult you, don’t take it personally. If you do, you will add unnecessary stress to your life, and it will be much harder for you to de-escalate the situation.

5. Assess Customer's Needs

Instead of assuming what a customer needs, it is wise to assess the types of consumer buying behavior on display. Some customers tend to think they know what they need. However, they may need a little direction before making the correct purchase. If you can help them see that you are looking out for them, then they will be much more likely to trust you instead of being difficult.

Read this blog to discover which value elements matter the most in B2B sales to differentiate yourself from your competitors, and deliver the best customer experience!

6. Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

Nobody wants false hope, and giving it will always come back to bite you. You should never lie and promise something to your customer to avoid an unpleasant conversation. They might calm down, but your customer will become more agitated when you or the company fails to deliver on the agreement.

Suppose that your customer demanded a discount because he’s purchasing a big order. Instead of telling them that they’ll get a discount on their purchase, start by acknowledging their concern. After that, tell them you’ll look at the numbers and try to figure out what you can do.

7. Ask For Support

Even if your company is small or medium-sized, you may not be able to handle every customer on your own. For instance, if an angry customer asks for information about a policy and you provide incorrect details, it may make the situation worse.

Don’t be afraid to ask your employees for help if you are dealing with a product or situation you aren’t familiar with.

For instance, imagine an angry customer asking about your company's new return policy. If you give incorrect information and they find out about it, they will likely call back angrier. Instead, ask your employees for support.

You can say, “I don’t want to give you any false information, so let me clarify with my team and get back to you.”

8. Focus on the Solution

Impatient customers don’t like waiting. They want to resolve any issues they are having with the product or services in your company quickly. So, if you can’t seem to get the leading cause of the problem, you may both realize the benefit of asking them directly.

You don’t need to over-explain. Instead, keep it short and straightforward and focus on resolving the problem the customer is experiencing. Once the situation is resolved, you can educate them on why it happened and what to do to avoid it next time.

Redirecting the conversation toward a solution is often the best way to deal with a difficult customer. 

9. Clearly Outline the Next Steps

One thing customers hate is when they don’t know what to do next. That’s why it’s so important to give them clear instructions up front. However, it’s never too late to outline the most productive steps.

10. Maintain Positive Relationships

Your relationship with the customer doesn’t end after resolving their primary concerns. They might have had other problems but forgot about them. If it feels like it would be productive, you can ask if there are other issues you may assist them with.

Let’s say a customer’s primary concern is receiving a refund, but you remember that they also had login issues with your mobile app last month. You can ask if they are still experiencing the same problem.

This may make the customer appreciate you more as you address all their concerns.

In Summary

Customer service is an essential part of any business, but it can be challenging to stay calm and collected when dealing with difficult customers. The key is to remain calm, practice active listening, and provide efficient solutions to your customers’ problems.

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