How To Work With Difficult Customers


Being and staying in business is not easy, even when dealing with easy-going clients or customers never mind when dealing with difficult customers. And the reality is that customers tend to have high service-expectations and you as a provider must meet them or you’ll risk losing the customer. Trying to understand your customers’ viewpoints (even if they’re completely unreasonable, or even worse – wrong) is the first step to working with difficult customers. Take a step back from the situation and remove any emotion you may feel. If you’re angry or impatient – stop! Listen without speaking so that you first understand the customer’s rationale – there have to be some. Second, empathize. Use a phrase like, “I understand how you feel …”. This response lets the customer know that you’ve heard them. Third, you need to try make things right. And in doing just that, you must evaluate all alternatives, giving the customer at least two and ideally three choices. In communicating the choices to the difficult customer, it’s also important to back up each choice with a logical explanation of the choice and its consequences on the customer. For instance, if the customer is looking for a refund and giving it is not an option, you need to clearly explain why that option is impossible and not in either party’s long-term interest. Finally, statistics from the Conference Board of Canada confirm that staying in regular contact with your customers (whether they had good or not-so-good experiences with your organization) is critical to your company’s success.

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