How to deal with difficult customers

How to deal with difficult customers

In any industry, dealing with difficult customers is inevitable. Even organisations with top-tier products and services experience occasional encounters with dissatisfied clients. However, for us as business leaders, it's critical to focus on how we react to and manage these situations. This is especially true considering 93% of customers are more likely to make repeat purchases with companies that provide excellent customer service, according to a report from Business News Daily.

Every individual in an organisation needs the skills to effectively deal with angry customers — from top-level executives to everyday team members. Luckily, businesses can quickly build a positive reputation with consumers by properly training employees to handle upset customers and resolve customer complaints.

For people managers like ourselves, it's essential to provide strategies for improvement, as well as training opportunities for adequate upskilling. If your business has been in search of the top strategies for managing rude customers and improving customer service, here are effective options to consider:

1. Listen closely and remain calm
First and foremost, it's vital to ensure you're listening to your customers and what they have to say. Regardless of how they act, you must remain calm — which not only mitigates the situation but also strengthens your reputation in the long run. Your initial interactions with the dissatisfied customer will set the stage for how the situation will progress.

A businessman holds a smiley face card in front of his mouthIt's essential for employees to stay calm when handling difficult customers.

2. Build report through empathy and understanding
Although it can be difficult, employees and managers should put themselves in the customer's shoes. This helps team members express their understanding of the customer's feelings and position. Empathising is an effective way to begin defusing a situation.

3. Stay in control and lower your voice
When disgruntled or rude customers are on the attack, it's critical for individuals within your organisation to stay in control. The customer might get louder to echo their frustration, or even begin yelling, but speaking slowly in a low tone can help them calm down. Managers, leaders or employees can quickly regain control of the situation, as the customer's anger will eventually dissipate.

4. Pick your battles and know when to give in
Unfortunately, you can't solve every issue difficult customers might have or resolve all of the tension between you. Taking note of how this conversation progresses will be essential to determining when it's best to "give in" and choose the high road in their favour. This helps organisations spend their time wisely, nurturing and investing in more productive customer relationships.

5. Don't take it personally
The most important thing for your team members to keep in mind is that they shouldn't take these reactions and interactions personally. Stay focused on solving the issue at hand no matter what the customer is saying or doing. Remember, they're voicing their frustration about a certain issue, which can easily escalate their reaction. Employees and managers should stay calm and guide the conversation in the right direction — so the issue can be properly remedied.

It's significant to note that difficult customers are atypical, or the exception to the rule, and they don't necessarily mean you'll lose business. Most customers will be understanding of uncommon mistakes or mishaps, especially if the situation is handled with care. In fact, a report from Salesforce found that if a company's customer service is excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with them again after a mistake.

While these strategies are helpful to keep in mind when managing disgruntled consumers, introducing opportunities for adequate training will be the most effective way to improve your customer relationships overall. Your team members need the right information and skills required to handle and defuse these situations successfully — and ICML can help. Learn more about our customer service training course or contact us to discuss other training options today.


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