It doesn't matter how great your company's products or services are, there will be difficult customers from time to time. And you have to turn negative customer experiences into positive experiences that people will remember.
And this is actually very important for any business! According to the Zendesk customer service trends report, 61% of consumers will leave a company for a competitor after even one bad customer experience. Quite a huge number, isn’t it?
That's why providing exceptional customer experience is one of the most basic and effective ways to boost your business’s sales and growth, but it isn’t always easy. Dealing with difficult customers presents unique customer service challenges and requires specialized training and techniques to meet their needs.
Luckily, when dealing with difficult customers, remember that there are several tips to help you handle the situation professionally. And in this article, we will describe the types of difficult customers you may encounter and how you can deal effectively with them and even provide good customer service.
Importance of dealing with difficult customers
Establishing and maintaining good relationships with your customers is key to the success of your business.
This confirms how important it is to deal effectively with difficult clients because proper, good customer service can help you retain customers. This is a great way to turn a negative situation into a positive one and encourage the customer to become a supporter of your brand or product because of how well you handled their situation and frustration.
Difficult customers may walk away feeling more impressed after your interaction, unlike regular customers who may not have interacted with you as much. So, we can consider dealing with difficult customers as an additional opportunity to impress and provide these customers with exceptional customer experiences.
Types of difficult customers
Of course, there are different ways of dealing with difficult customers. The key is to identify them early, and use the right type of communication to satisfy them. Then, you can turn these grumblers into loyal ones.
Let’s discuss the most common types of difficult customers. There are 5 types of them:
- The complainer. Usually customers complain, that's fine. And that's a good thing, because complaints can be a very rich source of positive and constructive feedback for your business.
But when you meet a particular customer who constantly complains, even about the most insignificant things, you can have the usual complainer in your hands. These customers complain about anything and everything.
For this type of customer, nothing is ever good enough. And it seems almost impossible to fully satisfy them. However, taking a calm and considered approach to these people can have great results.
Don't take their behavior as an attack on your business. Instead, try to view them as people who are frustrated by unfulfilled expectations. Be sensitive to them. See things from their point of view and don't make excuses. Anything other than an apology will add fuel to the fire.
Also, make sure to be attentive and sincere when talking to them. It doesn't matter if it's via email, phone or live chat. Get in touch with the customer and apologize for their disgruntlement.
Bad customer experience happens from time to time and you have to admit it. What matters is how you make up for it. This can turn a potentially dangerous review into an enthusiastic one.
- The know-it-all. It can be really hard to keep patience with the know-it-all. No matter what you offer them as a solution, it's wrong. You can even try at least a thousand different options, and none of them will work for this client. No matter how hard you try, they just won't listen.
First of all, remember that the best way to deal with such customers is not to take anything personally.
All you have to do is be patient and attentive. Keep offering your ideas in a calm, clear and collected way, and explain to them why they will work. As long as you aren’t smug about it, and take your time, they will (eventually) come around to your point.
- The Indecisive Customer. For reasons unknown to anyone, this type of customer simply cannot make a decision. They will ask you questions and more questions, but they still won't be able to make a purchase, no matter how much information you provide.
Indecisive people want to be more than 100% sure that they will get the best deal, quality, price and features before purchasing. Usually they are afraid of making mistakes. That's why they keep asking questions, comparing and "exploring". They will drain your energy and time, but they still won't buy. Although they are harmless and often very polite, such customers can greatly hinder your productivity.
The important thing here is not to exacerbate their anxiety. First, avoid unnecessary explanations. Keep it nice and simple by giving direct answers to their questions. Keep what you say factual and relevant, too. Make it to-the-point and convince them that they’re making the right choice.
Find a problem and offer a solution. Finding the root cause of someone's indecision means you can talk to them about it. It will be much easier for both of you. This will also make them trust you as a company and be more likely to return.
- The Aggressive Customer. This type of difficult customer is quick to rage, overly aggressive, highly critical, rude, arrogant, and often abusive. They think their needs and demands are higher than everyone else's. They scream, complain, insult to get what they want.
It doesn't really matter whether you're right or wrong, the aggressors don't care about your explanations. So, the best way to deal with them is to calmly and confidently apologize for the problem and tell them that you are ready to solve the problem if they calm down and tell you exactly how you can help.
Answer them politely, and never take their insults and criticism personally. Try to understand why they are upset and wait for them to calm down. When their anger subsides, take the opportunity to apologize and offer a solution. Often such aggressors can become very loyal customers and representatives of your business.
- The Impatient Customer. This is the type of customer who doesn't care if something isn't available or can't be done at the moment. They cannot imagine that you do not have some features or services they need. Moreover, they cannot express it in any other way than by resorting to anger. Usually they are manipulating that they will go to your competitors if you do not fulfill their requirements right now.
All customers deserve a quick response and fast action, no matter how complex. But you can't leave one customer and respond to another just because they've lost patience. Do your best to explain why things are not going as fast as they would like, reassure them that you appreciate their patience, and do your best to serve them as soon as possible.
TIP: In order to provide good customer service use modern and simple yet powerful help desk tools. For example, the HelpCenter Shopify app is a great tool to provide your customers with exceptional customer service at a reasonable price.
5 Useful Tactics
- Don’t take it personally.
This is the first and most important tactic. Always speak to the point and do not get personal, even if the customer does. Remember that the customer doesn't know you and is just taking their frustration out on you as a representative of your company. Gently return the conversation to the problem and how you are going to solve it.
- Apologize sincerely.
An effective apology meets a few basic requirements: it must be short, sweet, and sincere. But when you're dealing with difficult customers, it's easy to veer too far one way or the other. You can respond to their negativity with an insincere "sorry" or over-apologizing and talking too much in response to their grief. Work on getting comfortable with your middle ground so that you feel natural even in a tense situation.
When you apologize, acknowledge any shortcomings on your company's part. While this can be difficult to do when faced with an irrational reaction, this is the honest way forward.
- Tell the truth.
After you've apologized, get to the heart of the matter. Sometimes there is no solution yet. It's hard to deliver bad news, but lying to difficult customers never accomplishes the ultimate goal of increasing customer loyalty.
In situations where you don't have a resolution just yet, be transparent and clear. However, even if you cannot provide a solution, develop a plan and implement that plan with confidence. Ultimately, customers want to know that you're putting in the effort to meet their needs in the long run, and you're willing to keep going until that happens.
- Practice active listening.
Active listening is a skill that improves understanding and communication in a conversation. This includes focusing your intent on the speaker, understanding what they are saying, and responding thoughtfully.
Active listening helps you understand the meaning of what your customer is saying so you can do your best to improve the situation. Thus, you may need to use active listening when your customer needs confirmation that you are participating in a conversation. Giving your attention to the customer should look respectful, and it will help you fully understand the problem and find solutions.
One way to practice active listening is to use verbal statements that let the speaker know that you are listening and participating in the conversation. For example, ‘I see’, ‘Agree with you’, ‘I understand’, etc.
Active listening is a skill that takes practice to master. This is important because it helps to identify and resolve problems effectively.
- Thank your customers.
When your customer sounds angry and negative about the situation, thanking them for expressing their concern to you can go a long way in building rapport with them. Simply thank them for their time and patience while you work on a solution.
The easiest way to thank a customer is to do it constantly. When a customer initiates a service request, when you are working on a solution to their problem, when a customer leaves you positive or negative feedback. Thank them at every stage of interaction with your company. Customers will appreciate it.
Even when your customers are angry with you, it's important to remember that it's not about you. They may just be having a rough day, and you have the potential to help them make a difference.
Remember that your customers are people. If you can truly connect with them, it can go a long way in delivering a positive and exceptional customer experience. Follow our tips and you'll be on your way to providing good customer service that will make you stand out.