The key to dealing with difficult customers is to first understand what type of difficult customer they are and then to use the right approach to handle them.
With the right approach, even the most frustrating customer can be served with a minimal amount of stress. This has been inspired by an article on smallstarter.com.
Let us meet our first two difficult customers. The Bully
This type of difficult customer is quick to anger, very aggressive, highly critical, impatient, rude, arrogant and often verbally abusive.
Bullies think their needs and demands are superior to everybody else’s. It is not a surprise they do not like to wait. They want to be served NOW!
The bully, whether male or female, uses intimidation tactics to get what they want. They scream, complain abuse and may often get physical to get what they want.
That petite lady in the bank is one clear example of a bully. She tried to use her voice and aggression to get her way over others. She believed her needs were to be prioritized over the others, even those ahead of her in the queue.
How to handle the Bully
It does not really matter whether you are right or wrong; bullies do not care about your explanations. If you have any, please save it for your other customers. The bully’s impatient, rude and arrogant attitude makes it almost impossible for them to listen to any other voice other than theirs.
So, the best way to handle a bully, especially when he is the one on the wrong side, is to calmly and confidently apologise for the ‘problem’ and tell him you’re willing to solve the problem if he calms down and tells you exactly how you can help.
Always maintain eye contact with the bully at all times. It shows him you are not giving in to his antics.
Do not ever join a bully in a shouting match or try to match her aggression. Respond politely to them without raising your voice and never take their insults and criticisms personally. It’s your responsibility to remain calm and ‘sane’ while the bully is still in a fit.
If in the end, your attempts to handle him fail, cut him off. Some customers, especially bullies, are just bad for business. They don’t deserve your service.
But if the bully is a high value customer, you can reach out to him at another time, when she may have cooled off.
‘Converted bullies’ can become very loyal customers and ambassadors of your business.
I am sure you have met this kind of person before. They seem to know everything about everything, including your business, product or service.
In their bid to showcase their knowledge, they could be highly critical and rude. They also tend to talk a lot and always want to dominate the conversation.
This type of customer can be especially difficult to deal with because you can’t really tell what they want. In fact, sometimes, this attitude could just be a negotiation gambit intended to make your product or service seem inferior so they can get it at a cheaper price.
Do not fall for it. Know-it-alls like the sound of their own voice and love to be the centre of attention. They have an ego problem.
How to handle the Know-it-all Handling this type of difficult customer can be easy, if you know how to.
‘Know-it-alls’ repond quite well to an ego massage. Compliment their knowledge of your product or service and give them some good attention while you can. Make sure your compliments are sincere and not patronizing.
Never argue with this type of customer as you’ll end up having an extended argument. And worse still, you may hurt her ego.
Instead, if you need to correct him and provide some facts and information, you may use a line like: ‘You’re right, but I think the product is… (make your point).
As long as the ‘Know-it-all’ feels she got your attention, and leaves with her ego intact, this kind of customer can become loyal too.