Dealing with a difficult customer can be a challenging task, but it’s essential to understand what constitutes a “difficult customer.” In essence, a difficult customer is someone whose behavior causes issues, and mastering the art of dealing with them entails learning to handle difficult behavior effectively.

The key to managing these situations is realizing that you cannot change the customer’s behavior, but you can control your own reactions and responses. Effective communication is a two-way street, and reacting to a customer’s anger or defensiveness with anger or defensiveness of your own only exacerbates the problem. Taking the customer’s anger personally will lead to negative outcomes and hinder your ability to steer the conversation in a positive direction.

Typically, our initial reactions to difficult customers might include defensiveness or even reciprocating anger, both of which are counterproductive. When we are attacked, our natural instinct is to trigger our defense mechanism. However, responding solely with defensiveness does not resolve the issue and can escalate the situation into a shouting match.

To navigate these challenging situations successfully, it’s crucial to recognize that the customer’s anger is not directed at you personally but stems from their frustration with the situation they find themselves in. Instead of taking the abuse personally, focus on understanding the problem from the customer’s perspective and work on finding a solution.

Here are some practical suggestions for handling loudly complaining customers:

  1. Take Notes: Begin by taking detailed notes of the problem. Sometimes, angry individuals have difficulty articulating the underlying issue. Use courteous questions or confirmative feedback to clarify the situation. For instance, say, “Let me make sure I understand correctly; you’re saying that…”Courtesy will help soothe the customer’s anger, and feedback demonstrates that you’re taking their complaint seriously and actively listening.
  2. Ask for Preferred Outcomes: Engage with the customer by asking what they would prefer as an outcome. Do they want a refund, a replacement, or something else? If their request conflicts with company policy, explain the policy while trying to offer an alternative solution. For instance, you can say, “I apologize, but our company policy doesn’t allow for cash refunds. However, we can replace your defective item with a similar one of the same brand and price.”Most people simply want their complaints acknowledged and may accept an alternative solution when it’s presented respectfully.

Passing the blame onto others is not a viable solution because customers usually don’t care whose fault it is; they want their problem resolved. Stay calm and maintain a positive approach by focusing on the problem, not the customer’s behavior. In doing so, you can often turn a challenging situation into a positive one. It’s not uncommon for a customer to apologize for their earlier outburst once their problem has been resolved. By refocusing your response, you can transform a difficult encounter into a positive experience, leaving both you and the customer satisfied.

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Trish Springsteen

Get Known Be Seen Specialist, Personal Branding Strategist

Australia’s Leading Expert in Empowering Introverts

Multi International Award Winning Mentor

Speaker, Coach

International Award Winning Best Selling Author

Host Get Known Be Seen WebTV

I Believe in You until You Believe in Yourself

Clients work with Trish because they know she can help them have the confidence and self-belief to make speaking easy. Trish typically works with small business owners, introverts, authors and advocates helping them to promote their business to be visible. Stand out and make it easy for your clients to find you.

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